GMO Ag Company Touts Seed Corn With A Bug Zapper in Every Bite

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, October 18, 2012

EWG Video Reveals Shocking Sales Pitch to Midwest Farmers

Oakland, Calif. -- Pesticide and chemical companies battling California’s Proposition 37, to require labeling of genetically engineered foods, are telling Californians these genetically engineered foods are perfectly safe and no different from food grown naturally.

But at least one corporation is delivering a very different message to corn farmers. Syngenta has posted billboards along Midwestern roadsides that read: “Turn every seed into a bug zapper." These ads exhort farmers to buy Syngenta’s BT corn, engineered with a bacterial gene that targets corn borers.

Watch the new web ad from Environmental Working Group that shows the sales pitch for corn genetically engineered to kill pests.

“While pesticide companies are spending millions to kill Prop 37 in California, claiming food made with bacteria-infused ingredients is perfectly safe,” said Ken Cook, president of EWG and a California resident, “Midwest corn farmers are seeing ads selling genetically engineered seeds as a bug killer with every bite. I doubt that sales pitch would work on voters in California.”

On its website, Syngenta says of its seed corn, “Bacillus thuringiensis, also known as Bt, is a naturally occurring soil bacterium. Bt bacteria produce proteins that stop specific target insects in their tracks while being safe for non target animals. One of these proteins, produced from the gene Cry1Ab, targets corn borers. The tools of biotechnology were used to insert the Cry1Ab gene into Bt corn, providing a novel solution for protection of corn from corn borer attack.”

Other agribusinesses are selling bug-killing seeds. On its website, Monsanto boasts that it “offers corn farmers the ability to control weeds and pests with a single seed through a process known as ‘trait stacking’." The website for DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred subsidiary asserts that “since 1996, genes from naturally occurring microbes and other microorganisms have been added to corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and other crops, to improve farmers' productivity. These transgenic improvements help farmers preserve yield potential in the seeds they plant by providing insect resistance or herbicide resistance.…”

“Why shouldn’t all Californians have the right to this information, and more, when it comes to food we purchase and eat?” Cook said. “They shouldn’t have to dig deep into company websites to know which foods have been manipulated genetically. Voters in California can have that right if we fill the ballot boxes with votes in support of Proposition 37 on November 6.”