By Julie Etra
Since this issue of the Huatulco Eye is about health and nutrition, this is a timely topic. It is surprising the degree and percent that our increasingly industrially produced food contains a corn product, and the degree to which most consumers are unaware of this iniquitousness. For people with corn allergies this can be a serious problem. Probably the most common corn ingredient in food is dextrose, corn sugar. Cornstarch, a thickening agent, is also a very common food additive. While not necessarily deleterious to our health, these additives can constitute a relatively large percent of food ingredients while providing minimal nutrition.
In the United States, 86% of the corn we grow is genetically modified for the purpose of increased resistance to pests and pesticides but also resistance to herbicides. In comparison 26% has been altered word-wide. Most European countries don’t allow its cultivation, in part because the populace fears it isn’t safe. Since 1998, the Mexican government has banned the planting of GM maize, but not its import. Mexico imports about two million tons of GM maize from the US each year to be eaten, not planted, although there is increasing concern that local crops are being contaminated GMOs, produced by Monsanto, are resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, commonly known as Round-up, also manufactured by Monsanto. This results in clean fields but mono-culture crops, with no ‘weeds’ surrounding the fields. Although this sounds like an efficient system, the result is the rapid disappearance of pollinators essential to successful reproduction of numerous other crops and plants. Get rid of the pollinators, you loose the predators, and system is bound to eventually collapse. This unsustainable system with potentially disastrous results, as briefly discussed in a previous issue of the ‘Eye’, there has been a dramatic decline in Monarch butterflies in the United States due to herbicide eradication of milkweeds on which they depend.
Julie Etra, MS, Principal of Western Botanical Services, Inc., a 25-year old consulting firm located in Reno Nevada, is a botanist and restoration specialist with an avid love of flora and fauna.