Monsanto Controls the Weather: A Midwestern Corn-spiracy Theory

Melanie claims genetic engineering is to blame for the decrease in local humidity and temperatures this summer, so I ask her: “Why do you think Monsanto is responsible?”

She responds with another question: “Do you know anything about corn?”

“I know how to pop it.”

“A moderately-sized cornfield can create its own thunderstorms,” she continues without acknowledging me. “Corn is a very inefficient plant, you see. It takes in more water than it needs. That water then re-enters the atmosphere as a result of transpiration.”

“What is–“

“Transpiration is like tree sweat. What is perspiration in humans is transpiration in plants.”

“So we perspire and trees… transpire?”

“The corn sweats – a lot – and the sun heats that into its gaseous state, and the water is then in our atmosphere. A bunch of it all at once can form a cloud and cause a storm, but sometimes – it all depends on various factors – all that water stays in the lower atmosphere, thus creating…

She trails off and holds her hands up, as if waiting for something. I stare at her.

“Humidity,” she finally concludes, dropping her hands. “It’s this humidity that gives us an almost tropical climate in the summers.”


“Just wait. The purpose of genetically engineering food is to make it more profitable. More efficient growing techniques would help accomplish this. It stands to reason, then, that Monsanto would take an interest in making corn – one of our region’s most profitable crops – cheaper and easier to grow. Farmers would save a ton of money if they didn’t have to water their crops so much.”

“The problem,” she continues, “is that this causes a significant change in our clime. Without all that air-thickening moisture, winds blow stronger and faster, bringing cool fronts down from the North and across the plains unimpeded. Cooler breezes, plus no moisture to trap the heat… you get where I’m going with this, right?”

“Yeah, but, um, isn’t this good? This humidity was a man-made problem, correct?”


“Because, like, corn isn’t even native to this region, right?”

“Yes. We planted the corn.”

“And it’s making things cooler. That’s good, right? Like, for global warming?”

“It’s way too localized to make any difference on a global scale. That’s not the point. The point is that we’re constantly changing our environment at rapid speeds, and by the time we realize what we’ve done, we’re already knee-deep in the consequences.”

“Consequences like nicer weather?”

“That’s one way of looking at it. Another thing to consider would be how lightning from a thunderstorm replenishes nitrogen in our soil. Without that naturally added nitrogen, growers may now have to find other ways to supplement their topsoil with nitrogen and other elements that make healthy crops.”

“That sounds… that sounds more expensive than the extra water.”

“It does.”

“So, in the end, maybe farmers don’t actually benefit from GMOs.”

“It may be that no one benefits except Monsanto.”



We sit silently for a while, sipping our iced coffees and staring off into space, until I finally get up the nerve to say: “I’m still gonna eat a ton of corn this year.”

“Oh, definitely. We all will. That’s what makes it so diabolical.”

“Corn season is, like, one of the best things about summer.”

“I’d rather be controlled by supervillains than live in a world without corn.”

“My god. I… I would, too.”

”That reminds me: Sugar Grove, IL has a huge corn boil every year, and its 50th Anniversary is coming up. It’s going to be a 4-day festival, from July 27th through the 30th.”

“Are they still looking for volunteers?”

“They are.”

“For four days of corn? I am there.”



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