Smartstax is a genetically modified (GM) corn that has eight GM traits combined or ‘stacked’ together, six for insect resistance (Bt) and two for herbicide tolerance. Current stacked GM trait crops on the market only have up to three traits each. SmartStax was created through a collaboration between Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences, allowing the two corporations to share GM traits... Monsanto and Dow are predicting that SmartStax will be the largest commercial launch of a single GM corn because it will replace a lot of the existing GM corn varieties on the market. The main benefit of Smartstax maize is that it provides above and below ground insect protection along with tolerance to two herbicides (glyphosate and glufosinate). Herbicide tolerance and insect resistance genes are engineered in redundant combinations in the belief that it will prevent establishment of resistances to herbicides and the Bt proteins among weeds and insect pests respectively. The USDA provided a premium reduction in the cost of crop insurance for farmers growing Smartstax maize while the US EPA granted a reduction in the size of the refuge area set aside from 20 percent to 5 percent, which constitutes substantial government financial incentives for growing Smartstax maize. It is supposed to protect growers of Smartstax maize from the uncertainties of climatic instabilities associated with global warming. The USDA crop insurance program covers organic farmers too, but fails to protect the organic premium on price and will not consider the crop loss from pollen contamination from GM crops. Organic and conventional growers are placed at a clear disadvantage in comparison to growers of Smartstax corn.
The problem with bees:
Smarstax corn contains a potpourri of transgenes claimed to control pests both above and below ground. Monsanto’s subsidiary Genuity, which markets Smartstax corn along with stacked versions of GM soybeans and cotton, uses Acceleron seed treatment products. These contain a combination of fungicides including ipconazole, metalaxyl and trifloxystrobin for protection against primary seed-borne and soil-borne diseases, along with clothianidin, an insecticide, to reduce damage caused by secondary pests. Clothianidin is a systemic insecticide that may be carried to all parts of the corn plant including the pollen-producing tassel and pollen visited by bees. The selection of clothianidin for seed treatment is rather cavalier because the insecticide has been implicated in bee die-offs.The problem with corn monoculture:
Corn is the keystone species of the industrial food system, along with its sidekick, soybeans, with which it shares a rotation on most of the farms in the Midwest. I'm really talking about cheap corn — overproduced, subsidized, industrial corn — the biggest legal cash crop in America. Eighty million acres — an area twice the size of New York State — is blanketed by a vast corn monoculture like a second great American lawn.Corn monoculture violates the trust of the Corn Maidens. They taught the First People to grow corn in relationship with pompions and beans. Monoculture kills biodiversity, a basic tenet of the Corn Maidens.
I believe very strongly that our overproduction of cheap grain in general, and corn in particular, has a lot to do with the fact that three-fifths of Americans are now overweight. The obesity crisis is complicated in some ways, but it's very simple in another way. Basically, Americans are on average eating 200 more calories a day than they were in the 1970s. If you do that and don't get correspondingly more exercise, you're going to get a lot fatter. Many demographers are predicting that this is the first generation of Americans whose life span may be shorter than their parents'. The reason for that is obesity, essentially, and diabetes specifically.
Secondly, bees are vital to our existence because they pollinate the many plant varieties we depend upon for basic survival. Bees need a constant supply of flowers and pollen, a factor of biodiversity. As one flowering species matures and ceases to be a bee food, another species enters the flowering stage and provides sustenance to bees. This cannot be when there are thousands of acres of a genetically narrow breed of corn shutting out other plant species.
Furthermore, monoculture of this sort encourages an increase in blights and predators which prey on a single species, further threatening our food supply.
A threat on many levels. Acreage which should be dedicated to basic food production is dedicated to corporate corn so that monster companies like Corn Products International can thrive:
Corn Products International, Inc. is an Illinois-based refiner and processor of corn-based food additives and sweeteners. It operates factories in 15 countries.Corporate corn, courtesy of Archer Daniels Midland, Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Corn Products Intl, et al, NO!
Headquartered in the Chicago suburb of Westchester, Illinois, Corn Products International is a leading supplier of starches, sweeteners and other ingredients. Corn Products is the world’s largest producer of dextrose and a leading regional manufacturer of starches, syrups and glucose. The company provides a wide variety of ingredients to customers in more than 60 industries, including the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, animal feed, corrugating, paper and textile sectors.
The Company’s North America region includes businesses in Canada, Mexico and the United States. South American operations span Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. In Asia and Africa, the Company operates in China, Kenya, Pakistan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and South Africa.