USDA Declares New GMO Corn Safe

Published December 9, 2015

Monsanto Co. cleared an important regulatory hurdle in seeking approval for a new variety of genetically modified corn in October.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) review concluded the corn poses no significant threat to crops, other plants, or the environment.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced it would deregulate Monsanto’s MON 87411 maize, publishing its approval in the federal register on October 27. The corn was developed to withstand corn rootworms, which can damage roots and reduce yields. The new corn can also tolerate glyphosate, the active weed-killing ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and in other herbicides.

Mischa Popoff, a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News, says consumers should not fear genetically modified corn or consider it “unnatural,” as nobody has been eating natural corn for close to 100 years.

“Should people be eating it? Yes. What they’re basically doing now is tinkering with corn,” Popoff said. “It’s really nothing that astonishing, and they’re making corn, through genetic modification, resistant to these threats. There has never been any evidence any of these manipulations cause safety problems or harm of any kind.”

Additional Approvals Required

“MON 87411 will be combined with previously approved corn traits as a pyramided product named SmartStax PRO that provides both aboveground and belowground pest protection and would be the first product of its kind,” Monsanto spokesperson Jeff Neu said.

Monsanto is planning a full commercial launch of products featuring MON 87411 by the end of the decade, pending further regulatory requirements. Monsanto’s new corn strain must still receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before it can be sold.

Alyssa Carducci ([email protected]) writes from Tampa, Florida.