Frankencorn-A A +A
Monday, March 4, 2013
THE National Federation of Sugarcane Planters recently rang the alarm bells for Sugar Regulatory Administrator Ma. Regina Martin to investigate the entry into the country of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), suspected of being based on genetically-modified corn.
Warned NFSP president Enrique D. Rojas, "For the sake of the health of our consumers and the welfare of our sugarcane farmers, we urge SRA to immediately investigate this matter."
Wow, the campaign against GMOs has crossed over the province's organic industry. All along, one would have expected the Organic na Negros! Organic Producers and Retailers Association to issue this sort of warning. This time, NFSP beat ONOPRA to the draw.
Although I'm the ONOPRA vice president and will say this as my personal opinion, I strongly support Mr. Rojas's call. We might have different starting points, but on opposing the proliferation of GMOs and HFCs, we can both be on the same side of the table.
NFSP got hold of information that the country imported 11,000 metric tons of HFCS from China since late last year to January. On the other hand, Gina Martin said the SRA has no evidence that the HFCS brought into the country are GMOs so it cannot jump to conclusions.
She added, "We are monitoring the entry of these HFCS, and have made necessary proposals to the Department of Agriculture since this is not sugar, but corn, to see how these can be addressed."
However, GMO-Watch blog pointed out that "Although HFCS is not a GMO product per se, so much HFCS is made using GM corn, we think its inclusion into these pages is justified." GMO Watch is part of Smart Stuff HB, a Swedish registered company.
On the other hand, the SRA's hands are tied because HFCS's plant base does come from corn, not sugarcane, and out of SRA's mandate.
To oppose HFCS, the NFSP has to link up and find common cause with groups like ONOPRA and other health groups. Mr. Rojas pushed the right button when he mentioned the mantra that causes organic advocates to see red: genetically modified organisms.
According to the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) in the US, HFCS contains DNA from genetically modified corn. "The reality: Nope. While the corn used to produce high fructose corn syrup may have been produced using genetically modified corn, existing research indicates that corn DNA cannot be detected in measurable amounts in high fructose corn syrup."
In that case, it's not a "nope" but a "yup." That's a virtual admission of guilt on GM contamination on corn products, as GMO-Watch insisted. Frankencorn indeed!
According to the Environmental Health journal, researchers discovered low levels of the toxic element mercury in HFCS. In making high fructose corn syrup, caustic soda is one of the ingredients used to separate corn starch from the corn kernel. Caustic soda can be contaminated with mercury, then passed on to the high fructose corn syrup and those who eat it.
Mr. Rojas, in his letter to Ms. Martin, asked the SRA to check what companies made the HFCS importation and in what products it was used. One thing I'll guarantee, the products are used beyond additives to softdrinks.
The suspects would be, as our hostile witness the CRA said, apart from sweeteners, HFCS can be found in corn starch, bioproducts, corn cooking oil, and feed products. And as we know from the 2009 anti-GMO campaign in the province, living viable Bt corn that could reproduce, straight from Panay.
In Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma, he mentioned corn in majority of the bottles in our fridges: salad dressings, ketchup, sodas, and anything sweet-and even unsweetened food such as cheeseburgers. Is the NFSP willing to campaign beyond the issue of competing sweeteners and Frankencorns?
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 04, 2013.