April 1, 2012. Bentonville, Ark. Perhaps Walmart thought it was an April Fools Day joke. If they did, it may have been a costly miscalculation on the part of the largest, wealthiest and most powerful food chain in the world. With 4 of the 11 richest people in the US coming from the infamous Walton family, founders of Walmart, perhaps they simply don’t care. But activists for safe food gave the giant retailer a deadline of today to reject genetically modified sweet corn from its stores. So far, Walmart has ducked, dodged and all but ignored the demand.
The effort is led by the consumer watchdog group Food & Water Watch, and supported by Greenpeace and their sprawling network of environmental activists. Their goal is to have genetically modified ‘fake food’ voluntarily banned from all grocery stores in the US. Genetically modified food isn’t actually food. It’s a laboratory-created faux-food created by unnaturally altering the genetic DNA sequence of a certain food strain, such as sweet corn. The result, as admitted to by many experts and geneticists, is something other than food.
But to the average consumer, every single corn kernel looks, smells and tastes exactly alike – almost like a real kernel of corn. In fact, scientists made sure to create and clone the largest, most perfect-looking corn kernel possible. Each kernel is a mirror of the others, absent all imperfections, and unfortunately, taste.
With the backing of corporate money, American politicians have quietly pushed genetically modified foods onto the tables of Americans without their knowledge. When food companies and stores that disapprove of gene-altered food substitutes attempted to promote the fact that they don’t sell GMO food products, laws were created to silence them. Additional laws protected the corporate agri-businesses and their ‘franken-food’ by not only waving all requirements to label GMO food as such on the products’ labels, but it forbade non-GMO food manufacturers from promoting the fact that their products are not genetically modified faux-food. Politicians appeared to buckle to the pressure and money of the big corporations and succeeded in secretly pulling a fast one on the American people.
Now, a full 90 percent of all the sweet corn sold in the United States is genetically modified, not actual sweet corn. The process has gone so far, the only country left on Earth with natural, original corn, is Mexico – the birthplace of corn and home to dozens of corn varieties not found anywhere else. But the sad fact is, based on the dominant nature and tactics of not only the GMO corn plant, but the corporations behind it, the dozens of corn varieties that once populated the planet will be gone forever. And it’s happening right before our eyes.
The good guys
Not all giant corporations have accepted genetically modified sweet corn. Food & Water Watch reminds us that companies such as Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and the giant General Mills, have all banned the sale of GMO food products. Around the world, countries such as Germany, Peru, Ireland and others have banned the imitation food all together.
Last summer, the fight against GMO foods and their corporate profiteers escalated to the point that covert, underground activist cells began popping up across Europe. They attacked and sabotaged GMO farms and laboratories, albeit with limited success. Read the Whiteout Press article, ‘Global Attacks on Genetically Modified Food Experiments’ for specific examples.
One way Walmart can offer consistently low prices is by using its corporate and financial muscle to dictate the price it pays for the products it sells. The largest retailer on Earth, one with a yearly budget larger than many countries, simply forces its suppliers to sell their products to Walmart at whatever price Walmart says. Those prices are always lower than the store’s competitors and often cause the bankruptcy of smaller companies that must operate at a loss just to stay on the retailer’s shelves.
That policy, described as ‘Sam Walton’s scorched earth philosophy’ by CNBC, gave Walmart an overall 15 percent market share of the entire US consumer economy. That means that 15 percent of all products sold anywhere in America were sold from a Walmart store. More importantly, the New York Times tells us that Walmart’s market share for all food sold in the US is a staggering 33 percent. That means one-third of all food sold in America is sold by Walmart. For many suppliers and manufacturers, the mammoth retailer represents 50 or 75 percent of its overall sales. As far as they’re concerned, what Walmart wants, Walmart gets.
Because of its dominance of the food and grocery industry in America, Food & Water Watch, together with Greenpeace and a host of other grassroots organizations, is calling on Walmart to officially reject genetically modified sweet corn in time for farmers to plant real corn this spring. Hence, the April 1 deadline for action.
For more information on the challenge to Walmart and to find out how readers can help, read the Whiteout Press article, ‘Greenpeace vs Monsanto – Battle over the World’s Food Supply’.
While a handful of activists and protesters have taken to illegal means to fight such corporate giants as Walmart and Monsanto, groups like Food & Water Watch have taken a more responsible approach. Some of their tactics have included the collection of hundreds of thousands of petition signatures asking Walmart to reject GMO sweet corn. Taking their efforts a step further, the group even staged protests outside numerous Walmarts across the country. At many locations, the activists accented their point by delivering the hundreds of thousands of petitions to each Walmart store personally.
Yesterday, Food & Water Watch made one last effort to sway Walmart executives to stand with the consumers who’ve shown they do not want GMO foods on their tables. The group is asking everyone to stop by Walmart’s Facebook page and post a message to the company letting them know how you feel about the GMO sweet corn ultimatum. As always, keep it clean and cordial. Don’t hurt the effort with obscene language, threatening or derogatory language.
The group reports that early visitors to Walmart’s Facebook page found their comments either deleted or met with typical corporate PR spin. They urge their supporters not to be discouraged. The activists insist that each message is being heard and seen by Walmart and it will make a difference.
For more information, visit Food & Water Watch.