Farmers throughout Corvallis and surrounding areas are ecstatic about a new, BT-free version of GMO corn, NewwCobb, that will be hitting the market this spring. “It may be too soon to tell, but it looks as though it might be much more profitable than growing beets,” said second generation farmer Jed Styles.
GMO contamination has been weighing very heavily on local farmers’ minds, and sparked the drafting of Measure 02-89. Last fall, a GMO strain of wheat was discovered in Eastern Oregon, halting international shipments of crops regardless of their organic or GMO label.
As far as the health factors associated with NewwCobb, scientists say there’s nothing to worry about. “As far as we can tell, there are no health concerns associated with this new seed strain,” commented Randall Harbor, professor of food sciences and technology and employee of MetAgent Bioscience Corporation. “Our study group was extremely variable, we had subjects who were liberals, conservatives, Tea Party enthusiasts, conspiracy theorists, anarchists, you name it. Everyone felt fine.”
John Feather, owner of Pesticorp LLC, isn’t showing the enthusiasm everyone else is. I had to wake him just to get a quote for this article; apparently he has been hard at work lately. “First the bee-savers threatening me with the end of honey, now I have to come up with a pesticide for this new corn. It’ll never end,” he said.
Several farmers are lining up to plant the new seeds in this year’s crops. As for their organic farming neighbors: “We don’t really know what to do. We’re strongly considering moving to a plot on the north side of Corvallis and only allowing organic farmers. It sounds a little culty, yes, but what other choice do we have?” said Tony and Tonya Eldberger. “We won’t have any part of this. If it comes to us setting up our own farmers’ market and requiring people to pledge organic to get in, that’s what we’ll do.”
We tried to contact the holder of the patent for these seeds, but they were unavailable due to their scheduled meeting with bioengineers from Monsanto; I’m pretty sure the receptionist said something about working out a partnership. At any rate, we were trying to learn why these particular seeds were causing such a ruckus. Apparently, the NewwCobb crop will be resistant to pesticides, pests, drought, rain, wind, sun, and even earthquakes. To top it all off, the taste is unparalleled by any corn you’ve ever eaten before.
Costco, Winco, Safeway, and Kroger are wrestling out prices to see who can pay the farmer the cheapest amount. “Basically, we’re trying to drive the grocery store market,”said Kroger public affairs representative Bella Steinsen. “The last GMO fiasco negatively affected the market. We’re trying to rebound from that, mainly by pointing out that nobody really knows the harms or benefits of GMOs as much as they like to claim they do.”
By Kirsten Allen