Is This Toxic Pesticide in Your Food? The Truth About BT Corn

GMO BT Corn Abel James

Have you heard about Bt Corn?

Monsanto, the same chemical company that brought us Agent Orange, is at it again, splicing a toxic pesticide into the DNA of corn itself to create a grain that kills any insect that ingests it.

Bacillus thuringiensus (Bt) is a soil bacterium that has been spliced with corn genes so that when an insect eats the Bt, the toxins dissolve and punch holes in the perpetrator’s gut, killing the bug within 24-48 hours. Kind of horrifying, right?

But big agriculture is touting this mutant Franken-corn as a godsend because they “don’t have to spray quite as many tons of poisonous pesticides into the air” (…as organic farmers and sensible people everywhere roll their eyes and shake their heads.)

Saying that Bt corn is a good thing because it reduces pesticides is like saying a “Fun Sized” candy bar is “healthy” because it helps you not eat a King Size. Really? That kind of logic is all over the internet and frankly, I find it ridiculous.

As do real scientists—Research shows that the use of GM crops is actually driving up the use of pesticides and herbicides because the little buggers become immune to their new adversaries. As Jeff Goldblum said epically in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.”

As you probably already know, corn is in pretty much everything these days. It’s in the obvious places, like your bag of tortilla chips. But it’s also hidden in toothpaste, gravy, cereal, ice cream, soda, and some juice-like-products (which we can’t actually call juice, because that would be lying).

By some estimates, corn is in over 45,000 products on your grocery store shelves… not to mention the corn-fed meats. But you read the label, and it doesn’t say “corn!” Right. However, it might have sneaky ingredients like xanthan gum, natural flavors, citric acid, fructose, maltodextrin, vitamin E or cellulose. The rapidly increasing number of people with corn allergies have a very hard time avoiding it.

“I’m not allergic to corn, so why do I need to know all of this?” You might ask, slightly disgruntled after being caught knuckle-deep in a bag of Fritos.

Here’s a hint: What do farmers feed their livestock to fatten them up as quickly as possible? CORN!

Like MSG is used to induce obesity in lab rats, a glut of low-quality, high-glycemic GM corn is used to induce obesity in cattle and livestock.

Bt Corn and Your Body: According to research published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, Monsanto’s GM corn has significant adverse effects on liver and kidney function. The doctors and scientists also noticed problems with metabolism, heart, spleen, and adrenal glands. Research on humans is inconclusive, mostly because there hasn’t been any yet.

GMO BT corn monsantoIf it weren’t bad enough, Bt Corn Even Kills Butterflies: Because Monsanto’s corn is grown in the often unpredictable environment of the “real world,” toxic pollen catches the breeze and contaminates the nearby milkweed where unsuspecting monarch butterfly larvae are fattening themselves up for their big transformation.

Instead, the monarchs inhale Bt corn pollen and their stomachs explode. Monsanto insists that their corn is safe for human consumption. But I’m not convinced by yet another promise of safety from the Darth Vader of the food world. We’ve been here before.

If there’s one thing to eliminate from your diet today, make it GMO corn.


Bt Corn: Health and the Environment, Colorado State University Extension

A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health, International Journal of Biological Sciences

Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. — the first sixteen years, Environmental Sciences Europe

Bacillus Thuringiensis, University of California San Diego

Is Corn the Next Gluten? Mind Body Green

Transgenic Pollen Harms Monarch Larvae, Nature International Weekly Journal of Science


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  1. Especially given the fact that corn is such a cheap ‘goto’ grain, prevelent in such an overwhelming amount of ‘food’, (and for the fact that our livestock, as you pointed out, is fattened up with it as well), the implications for this are frightening.
    Thanks for sharing, Abel.

  2. …I remember how I used to LOVE fresh sweet summer corn — sad to think never again, but — well — never again 🙁

  3. Organic farmers around here go to extreme measures to try to avoid cross-contamination of the GMO corn with their corn. Starting to be a futile task from what I understand.

  4. Enough said. No more corn for me. At least when I know it’s actually in the food I am eating. Sounds like it is difficult to tell.

  5. Love corn & popcorn. I think twice about eating it unless I absolutely have a craving for it &
    it’s certified organic!

  6. Wow. That is crazy. I have let small amounts of corn to sneak back into my diet in tortilla chips that are “organic”. Nixing that right now! Thanks for the info

  7. I can definitely tell when I eat out at a Mexican restaurant and go full force on the chips and salsa…those chips are definitely not GMO-free! Although corn really doesn’t have nutritive value, it’s still nice to munch away on some organic tortilla chips dipped in some homemade guac every once in awhile 🙂

  8. Diana Cote says:

    It’s so sad Monsanto in destroying so much of our food and ecosystem. We every once in a while indulge on some organic corn chips but I guess we should nip that one. 🙁

  9. I love all the information you’s really an eye – opener and I’m trying to go pale for better health..thanks for all you do!

  10. Stephanie KL says:

    I no longer eat corn but to learn that it is in my toothpaste, I’ll have to be more diligent by scrutinizing the ingredients.

  11. Even Weight Watchers knows that corn is fattening. While most vegetables are point free on their system, corn is not. Having eaten no sugars, no grains for a year, corn tastes so sweet to me. As do carrots, which I suspect are also such a long way from their natural state.

  12. Tracy Haslam says:

    I’m gutted! Sweet corn was always my favorite veg but I have read many bad things about corn and this is just another to add to the list. Did their parent not tell them to play with their food?

  13. This is so frustrating to me. I LOVE corn on the cob in the summer. It’s one of my favorite foods. I know it’s not considered “paleo” but I still love it. I just wish it were easier to find non-GMO organic corn. Sigh.

  14. Corn was easy to give up as a side dish…not as easy to avoid when it’s in EVERYTHING else we eat – in one form or another – it seems! Eating has become an extreme sport these days…jump, swerve, avoid!

  15. Jennifer Hibbs Argondizza says:

    Interesting article. I wish food was just like it used to be so many years ago. Some of my best memories as a kid in NJ was sitting outside in the summer, shucking the sweet jersey corn that we waited for all year and eating outside on the deck with my family. It has been ruined for me and I never touch it anymore. It is scary we have to live like this.

  16. I agree with Jennifer’s comment – the food of today is not like it used to be. It is not like the food I grew up eating. I found out I have a corn allergy a few years back and did some research into just how pervasive the use of corn is in our current society. It is really very concerning that this is where we are now in our “evolution”.

  17. I am Mexican so letting go of corn was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do health wise, ITS MY COMFORT FOOD!! But after following your regimen for 5 months I’ve lost 40 lbs! Thanks Abel!

  18. Kris Lauer says:

    It is amazing that anyone would think that it would be ok to do this in the first place! Most of our genetic code is shared among all living things on this planet. Why then would you think that if you change a plant that we eat for food into something that kills things that eat it that it would be ok for US to eat it? Really, just think about it! I guess that is why common sense is not common anymore! Thanks for the information!

  19. The huberous of some humans in the scientific community (or anywhere else, for that matter) is truly remarkable. If the substance will kill those adaptable, resilient little bugs how can it possibly be safe for human consumption?

  20. Abel,

    This is an excellent article. Keep those GM foods away from our bodies. Let’s keep spreading the word about these destructive unhealthy foods. Knowledge is power.

  21. GMOs , such a bad idea! Government should crush that and protect its people, not the dollar. STOP messing with our food and our health. We should have a choice, but it’s in everything. Sad that we have to say NO when our children ask for popcorn… and that’s just one example.

  22. No popcorn has been genetically modified; I’m pretty sure it’s just actual corn varieties, and that mostly animal feed corn. I’m a whole lot more concerned about eating meat or milk from animals that have been raised indoors mostly on bt corn, especially when they are shot with hormones and antibiotics constantly than avoiding GMO tortilla chips.

  23. Honestly, so the article’s stating many problems in other animals that this GBO corn causes, especially in the small ones, but it actually admits that no human problems have shown up yet. Really, the article above states, “According to research published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, Monsanto’s GM corn has significant adverse effects on liver and kidney function. The doctors and scientists also noticed problems with metabolism, heart, spleen, and adrenal glands. Research on humans is inconclusive, mostly because there hasn’t been any yet.”
    See, the article clearly states that there has been no problems found in human’s heart, spleen, etc. ever found! Logic suggest that this GBT corn is poisonous to the creatures in which the problems are found, and not poisonous to the creatures in which the problems are not found, including humans. For examples of foods poisonous to mice that you know are not poisonous to humans, copy and paste the link below.

  24. Okay, please here me out for this.

    I’m working at a well known university in entomology (study of insects) as an undergrad, but have been in a job with field crops for almost a year and worked with this “terror” bt corn. I know science can be a bit scary if you aren’t used to it.. but a lot of what’s in this article isn’t true.

    The Bt genetics in corn do NOT kill (or even harm) all insects, or any mammals. The gene that is altered (we worked with cry3Bb1 this summer) alters 1 protein that only occurs in the target insects – one of the main ones being corn rootworm. It doesn’t affect insects like butterflies.

    This is great for reducing use of pesticides. And while some of you may go for organic food only (and I’m not putting you guys down), you have to understand how many people are in the world, and how we all need food. Then you have to understand how much damage these insects cause to food production. Corn rootworm alone is a billion dollar pest – it causes $1 billion each year in corn damage, and when it’s particularly bad it can take out fields of corn. Perhaps small plots of organic corn in areas where corn rootworm are not prevalent will be okay.. but the large scale plots in the midwest that f3ed our country (and others) could not produce the food we need without cutting down pest insects.

    Resistance is a problem, but scientists around the country are working on methods to counteract that, without higher use of other pesticides (I was actually a part of a such study this summer, we are finding ways of planting that have promise).

    Although pesticides and gmos can be scary – and some pesticides are dangerous – please keep in mind how many people rely on foods like corn. Also remember there are people working every day to find safer methods to bring food to the table for everyone. Newer pesticides today (like neonicitinoids) are safer and don’t last in the environment as long as previous pesticides, and we’re always working for safer methods. GMOs are some of the safest options, because the target very few creatures (only those with the one protein). These discoveries are extremely time consuming and difficult to find, because yes, life does find a way, but we and the foodstuffs we require also must find a way. Do remember not everyone has the privelege of being able to buying more expensive and less productive and ultimately sustainable gmo free food.

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