Just Give it a 'Good Soaking': Decision time in the Corn Belt
An ambiguous decision by Frito-Lay Inc. not to accept genetically modified corn is putting new pressure on farmers at the brink of the planting season, even though the snack food giant is not willing to promise consumers that its products will be GM-free.
While Frito-Lay's decision will not have a significant impact on the size of the market for Bt corn, farmers contacted by BioCentury find the move disturbing if not hypocritical. Nevertheless, many said they would lower the acreage they devote to Bt corn this year, even if going back to conventional corn means resuming heavy use of pesticides.
In addition, the decisions by household names such as Frito-Lay, H.J. Heinz Co. and the Gerber unit of Novartis Consumer Health have not been matched by giant grain purchasers such as Cargill Inc., and in any case, much of the Bt corn crop is used in animal feed.
Frito-Lay (Plano, Texas) last week said it will ask its contract corn growers not to include Bt varieties in what they grow. Simultaneously, however, the company acknowledged that it is "a large buyer of agricultural commodities and since more than a quarter of the total U.S. agricultural crop is derived from biotechnology, just like other food companies, we could have biotechnology ingredients