The foods we are used to seeing and consuming all have their own unique history. It is important to note that the corn plant did not grow naturally. It is a genetically modified organism or GMO that people modified over the years. Artificial selection plays an important role in this process. Native American farmers in Mexico from over ten thousand years ago took note of a plant called teosinte. This is the plant where corn originated. It seems that it was a single teosinte plant that went through a mutation along with the seeds of today to make corn the way we know it today.

GMO vs. GEO

GMOs and GEOs are two different areas of food alterations. A GMO is a genetically modified organism, while a GEO is a genetically engineered organism. GMOs have a history of existence dating back to ancient times. Alternatively, GEOs include changes that take place in the lab. GEOs take a lot of money to produce and large agricultural corporations are those primarily responsible for these changes. An example of creating a GEO is inserting a gene into the natural genetic makeup of an organism. This is to incorporate an new and desirable characteristic to the organism. Plants are where these alterations typically occur. Labs have the ability to add beta-carotin to a rice plant, where it would not normally be present.

Controversy

GEOs bring about feelings of fear for many. People are unclear on the implications on human health. There is also the risk that genetically engineered organisms may cross-pollinate with a similar plant. Many are concerned that the consequences are unknown. Gene editing is an alternate form of modification that doesn’t need to use foreign substances. The existing genes are adjusted instead. The lower price point also expands the services that can use it. Smaller labs and companies will have access to this method.

To learn more about the origin of foods and how that relates to sustainable living, visit NR Today here.