An Issue of Corn Production

Most people would perceive corn as a delicious side dish, however, a lot of people don’t realize that it’s in the majority of the food we eat and everything in between. These include items from breakfast cereals to medicine. The documentary Food, Inc., produced by Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein, examines a deeper look into the issues surrounding our food system. The film stated that because farmers are paid to overproduce corn, 30% of land base in the United States is used to plant this crop due to government policy. It stated that an estimate of 90% of processed food products in the grocery store either contain a corn or soybean ingredient, and most of the time both (Food, Inc.). The film also stated that due to the overproduction of corn, food scientist came up with uses for it, which resulted in an abundant amount of foods containing corn in some way, such as high-fructose corn syrup.

This leads to the issue of having GMO (Genetically modified organisms) foods, which is food created in a lab that modifies genetic material of a plant or animal. According to the website Consumer Reports, from the article “GMO foods: What you need to know,” foods made with canola oil, corn, or soy often contain GMOs. Many have argued that GMO enhanced foods should be labeled, and some have gone to argue that people have been eating these modified foods for years and there’s no evidence of people being harmed, however, as stated in the article, just saying there’s no evidence of harm isn’t proving it’s safe. In 2016, Caitlin Shetterly, an investigative journalist, described in Elle magazine of a mysterious illness she developed that stopped after she quit eating certain foods containing corn, from which her doctor later suggested she was allergic to a protein in genetically modified corn (Lantz). Eating corn-based foods continuously could cause health problems, and corn production can affect the environment as well.

In 2013, John Bauer, co-founder of a company called The Foodery in Boston, talked of three downsides through dependence of corn. The first is how continuous consumption of corn-based products could result in diabetes and obesity (Bauer). Bauer stated the second downside is eating corn and it’s many derivatives, they are consuming a substance that’s been contaminated with pesticides and which has been Genetically Modified. The third downside is how corn production could bring environmental damage to soil, water, and air (Bauer). Bauer says that due to corn contributing to feeding livestock, supplying these industries with acreage of corn won’t last forever, and years of pesticide usage can ruin soil, waters can get contaminated, and digestive problems of cattle through grain consumption can result in methane emissions. Altogether, we should have the right to know what goes into making our food, and it’s an issue we should be making more people aware of. It’s shocking to find corn in a majority of things. They as producers shouldn’t be hiding anything from us consumers when it comes down to the food we eat.

Lauren Shelby

  1. Bauer, John. “Corn Is Everywhere.” The Foodery. August 20, 2013. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  2. Food, Inc. By Robert Kenner, Robert Kenner, Robert Kenner, Richard Pearce, Eric Schlosser, Eric Schlosser, Melissa Robledo, William Pohlad, Jeff Skoll, Robin Schorr, Diane Weyermann, Elise Pearlstein, Elise Pearlstein, Kim Roberts, Kim Roberts, Michael Pollan, Michael Pollan, Gary Hirshberg, Joel Salatin, and Mark Adler. Directed by Richard Pearce. Performed by Robert Kenner . Los Angeles, CA: Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2008. DVD.
  3. “GMO foods: What you need to know.” GMO Foods: What You Need to Know – Consumer Reports Magazine. February 26, 2015. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  4. Lantz, Catherine. 2016. “Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food, Our Land, Our Future.” Library Journal 141 (13). Media Source, Inc.: 113–19.
  5. Fig 1. Corn-field.

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