Neil Young Takes Aim at GMO Corn

It's not every day that agriculture policy and rock and roll royalty intersect, but when the subject is as divisive and public-facing as genetically modified crops, expect some unusual incidents.

That's what happened when legendary rocker Neil Young struck out against GM corn during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert May 26.

The “Heart of Gold” singer and long-time opponent of GM crops dismissed a recent study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finding no long-term health effects in Americans, who consume large amounts of GM products, and Europeans, where many GM crops are banned.

Neil Young

 “That must be a Monsanto study, it didn't notice the terrible diseases and all the things that are happening, why these things have been banned throughout Europe and throughout the world,” Young said.

It wasn't a Monsanto-funded study, but Young has battled the agribusiness giant in the past. In 2015, he helped produce “Seeding Fear,” a short documentary that went after the company over how it sells its Roundup Ready soybeans.

GM corn isn't common fodder for late-night talkshow guests, but this is Stephen Colbert's show, so there was bound to be a joke coming soon.

Just as Young's criticism of GM crops reached its crescendo, a man dressed as a giant ear of genetically modified corn entered stage right.

“You got something to say about the GMOs, I'm all ear,” the corn-man told Young.

Young didn't pull any punches against the human-corn hybrid.

“I don't generally like to label things, but you're so dangerous, and you're dangerous to me, personally, and my family and the rest of the planet,” Young said.

That was too much for the corn character, who burst, flinging popcorn onto Young and Colbert.

Non-GMO Corn

Young has long been active on agriculture issues and is one of the founding members of Farm Aid, an annual benefit concert designed to raise money for U.S. family farmers. But the skit may rub some crop growers the wrong way.

The National Farmers Union, which represents about 200,000 small farmers and ranchers, said it has both members that plant GM crops and others that don't.

The NFU does, however, back mandatory GM labeling on product packages, an issue that Senate Agriculture Committee members are currently debating. Neither supporters of mandatory labeling or voluntary labeling have reported progress on a nationwide standards since a Senate bill failed in March, though.