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Why is GM corn flavorless?

Submitted by: Veronica


Expert response from Carly Scaduto

Technology Communications Lead, Bayer Crop Science

Thursday, 12/09/2013 12:03

Before I answer this, I want to make sure you know the difference between sweet corn (what people eat in its whole form either fresh on the cob, canned or frozen) vs. field corn (what animals eat as feed and what is used in processed food). Sweet corn is bred for sweet taste and harvested when it is still tender and full of sugar, thus giving it the name sweet corn. Field corn is bred primarily for starch content and is allowed to mature in the field, allowing the sugar to turn into a starch (losing its sweet flavor) and the kernels to dry out, at which time it gets harvested. Corn is very high in moisture and it needs to dry out quite a bit before it can be processed as an ingredient in foods.


Field corn is used very differently than sweet corn. It’s not nearly as sweet as sweet corn, so it doesn’t taste very good right off the cob. Field corn is processed into corn meal or corn flour, and then used in foods that have corn as an ingredient. Simple examples are tortilla chips or corn flakes, but lots of other foods also contain corn.


But if you are specifically asking about GM sweet corn being “flavorless”, I’m happy to report that none of Monsanto’s sweet corn varieties could be described that way. In fact, we have what we call “super-sweet varieties” that taste so good you don’t even have to cook them or add butter or salt. My personal favorite is a variety called “Obsession II” which is a bi-color GM sweet corn. We recently had a local farmer supply our St. Louis cafeteria with it and everyone loved it. In addition, this farmer came to the St. Louis campus to sell it, and he sold out within 90 minutes!


Keep in mind that with each day, the sugar in corn turns to starch which means the “older” the corn gets, the more it will lose its sweet flavor regardless if it is GM or not. So, always store fresh sweet corn in the refrigerator after purchasing so it maintains its flavor longer.