Friday, June 15, 2012

Is My Sweet Corn Safe?

With sweet corn being a major staple of summer-time food enjoyment, it is important to determine if what I am going to be enjoying with hamburgers, hot dogs and watermelon is truly safe to consume.  This is definitely a concern for anyone who is putting any food into their mouth. (This would be everyone)  My family and I are no different.

We have the opportunity to raise an acre of Obsession II sweet corn from Monsanto this summer.  Is it safe though? It does contain proteins in it that help fight off insects to keep it from doing harm that makes either part or all of an ear non-edible.  

Sap beetle that feeds on damaged kernels from other insects.
Ear worm (which is controlled with new Bt sweet corn)

But aren't companies just putting harmful, deadly insecticides in the corn (whether sweet or field) that is harmful to humans?  Actually the proteins that are being introduced are from a family called Bacillus Thuringiensis which have been used for years in controlling of pests and can still be used in organic corn production to control insects.  According to Wikipedia: Because of their specificity, these pesticides are regarded as environmentally friendly, with little or no effect on humanswildlifepollinators, and most other beneficial insects. (   For more information go to University of California Sand Diego at  It has a great FAQ section for both the consumer and farmer.  This is a technology that has been derived from naturally occurring soil bacterium and has been shown to be safe in multiple studies.

Are the fields safe to walk in with these "pesticides" growing in the plant?  We already know that the Bt protein that introduced into the plant is extremely safe to non-targeted pests.  In agriculture we are using crop protection products that are being applied to the fields to protect against insects, disease and weeds.  All of these products that are "synthetics" have a period that workers, agronomists, and farmers need to stay out of the field.  These may range from a few hours to 24 hours or more depending on the synthetic being used.  Anyone can walk through a Bt field of sweet corn at anytime without problems.  Most people don't like walking through any corn field organic, Bt, or otherwise during pollination. Not only does one get pollen all over them but if one has a pollen allergy it will affect them as well.

Bt is only used in crop production right?  No. It is actually being used to control flies, mosquitoes and other pests in urban areas.  Since DDT was outlawed in 1972 in the United States there needed to be a way to control the pests that not only are an annoyance but do have a negative health impact on society.  Bt was introduced and shown to be extremely effective and extremely safe to the human population.  The pest controlling is done through such modes as aerial spraying.

In the last 50 years there have only been 2 reported cases of possible allergic reactions to Bt.  One was a situation of a disease that was present.  The other was an extreme food allergy. (  At the end of the day Bt is a naturally occurring soil borne substance that has been used for almost 100 years with an unmatched safety record.  Enjoy your Bt sweet corn or any other Bt foods knowing that it is safe for you and your loved ones.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The water is flowing

This year on Hunnicutt Farms has been dry. Not the devastating drought dry but dry enough that irrigation has been going on sporadically for a month in the area. Farmers are watering corn, soybeans and seed corn.

The same is true for our Obsession II sweet corn. This is our crop that I baby. Yes it doesn't bring in any income but the reward of smiles on my family's face is payment enough.

So yesterday I used the tractor and hiller to create a ditch to run water down. After I got done, my cousin's hired man set out the garden hose and the watering contraption that my cousin built. Slowly but surely water started traveling down the ditch I made.

I can't wait to enjoy this patch of sweet corn. My family was able to try some a couple weeks ago when Monsanto graciously sent us a sample to tease our tastebuds for what we will have in a few short weeks.

I can taste the juices already.

Are You Calling for a #FarmBillNow

For any naysayers out there on the importance of the 2012 farm bill, they simply need to check out the vote tally in the Senate today.  In an impressive 90-8 vote, the farm bill now moves into debate on the floor. In the coming days, amendments will be offered and NCGA staff will be keeping you and me up to date as important votes come to the floor.  But until that time, there is something you and I can do to help out. 

A few weeks ago in a blog post, NCGA’s DC Communications Manager mentioned the importance of Twitter in contacting our members of Congress.  Well, here is your chance to join me in taking some action.  NCGA has teamed up with other agriculture organizations to get the grassroots activated in tweeting U.S. Senators using the hashtag #FarmBillNow  to let them know why the legislation is important to not only my farm but yours as well.   We are ginning up our farmers, aggies and advocates and asking them to keep contacting their Senators as debate begins on the floor.  This is a vitally important piece of legislation that impacts 16 million jobs.  Yep, 16 million. (Have you seen the unemployment rate lately???) 

The campaign went live this morning and already we are seeing it is being picked up by the Senate Ag Committee, Senate offices and press.  It is an impressive start to the campaign but we can get even bigger.  Let’s get so many tweets using #FarmBillNow that we get calls from Senate offices saying “Uncle! I give in!  Please stop Tweeting me!”

Join me in making sure we keep this vitally important legislation on track in helping farmers everywhere.