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. http://fooderyboston.com/corn-is-everywhere/.
  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. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/02/gmo-foods-what-you-need-to-know/index.htm.
  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. https://ezproxy.southern.edu/login?qurl=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ebscohost.com%2Flogin.aspx%3Fdirect%3Dtrue%26db%3Da9h%26AN%3D117112774%26site%3Dehost-live%26scope%3Dsite.
  5. Fig 1. Corn-field. http://inhabitat.com/study-shows-corn-fields-creeping-into-untouched-grasslands-to-meet-ethanol-fuel-demand/.

Secrets​ of the Cornfield

In America, the idea of having a choice on what we eat is usually expected. The problem with this is that most of the foods we eat are a lot more limited than we think. In fact, most of the products you will find in the U.S contain the same couple of ingredients. Consumers are being tricked into thinking they have a long list of choices when they may only have one or two. With this, some may argue if consumers want to know what is in their food, they should be responsible for doing so. While this statement could be thought of as correct because food producers not only hide what their ingredients are, the unsustainable process of which these products are made should support the argument that we as humans have the right to know what is in our food.

When it comes to producing our food, companies will use ingredients that are both cheaper and faster to produce. And with doing this we get the vegetable, corn, being thrown into everything we eat because it is both easy and cheap to produce. According to Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences, Dr. Jonathan Foley, food producers are molding corn into an array of different unhealthy ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and even citric acid. Author Michael Pollen spoke in the documentary Food Inc. of how farmers are even feeding cows corn to make them bulkier faster, and because of this our meat suffers greatly. Pollen says, “Cows are not designed by evolution to eat corn, cows are designed by evolution to eat grass.” Because these cows are eating something that they were not designed to eat, the deadly bacterium E Coli 0157:h7 starts to form in their stomachs (Food Inc.). Being in tight corners these cows will stand in their feces all day. Giving food producers no real way to keep the bacteria from leaving our meat (Food Inc.). This showing that food companies are not only putting fattening products in our food without us knowing, but they are also feeding us products that could seriously hurt our health.

Companies are trying their hardest to give us food that is cheap for them to produce, and in turn, they are giving us ingredients that are jeopardizing our health. According to Trace One Manager Chris Morrison, a survey found that about 33% of consumers said they would be willing to pay for information on their food. Morrison stating, “Transparency matters and many consumers are willing to pay for it.” Due to the overwhelming facts, research, and this idea alone, I feel it is safe to say that we as humans have the right to know clearly what is in our food.

Summer Shelby

 


 

  1. “Consumers Want to Know More About Where the Ingredients for Their Food Come From.” Food Manufacturing. March 31, 2016. Accessed April 18, 2017. http://www.foodmanufacturing.com/article/2016/03/consumers-want-know-more-about-where-ingredients-their-food-come.
  1. Foley, Jonathan. “It’s Time to Rethink America’s Corn System.” Scientific American. March 05, 2013. Accessed April 18, 2017. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/time-to-rethink-corn/.
  1. 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. 2008.