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What are genetically modified organisms? Well, beyond being a trend in agriculture since the 1980s, they are plants that have been altered to be resistant to the bugs, funguses, and other things that destroy profits for farmers.
Sounds great on paper, right? But think it over for a minute... it's dangerous.
In nature, we have always had many varieties of each of our plants. That's how each has survived for so long. If one species is killed out by a particularly tough season, bug, parasite, or something else, we would still have plenty of others so we wouldn't lose that plant forever. If we have just one type of corn, and it's affected badly by something, we might be out of corn forever.
Genetically modified plants are tough and are not easily destroyed by outside factors, but because of that, they also easily take over other plants. They grow like mad men. Also, when they are pollinated by bees and birds, and anything else that touches it and travels to a new plant, they spread to other plants.
So, if a bee lands on a genetically modified corn plant flower and eats some pollen and then goes over to a nice organic corn plant, it cross-pollinates. That organic plant is ruined and will now create babies that are half genetically modified. It's very, very hard to keep all the good plants away from the bad.
Animals know what are genetically modified organisms, and they avoid them at all costs.
An organic farmer told me a story once about his corn plants. He had just a few rows, maybe a half acre, of sweet corn plants in his field. Next door, a conventional farm grew hundreds of acres of corn. Rather than feast on huge fields of corn, the raccoons would climb over the fences to sneak into his organic corn field.
No matter what scarecrows, flashy ribbons, or any other tricks he tried to keep them away, they still ransacked his crops. He told me they would climb to the top of his corn stalks and slide down, collecting the loosened corn cobs at the bottom.
The conventional corn farm next door never had a raccoon problem. The animals could sense that their GMO corn was inedible, and we should take that as our first clue about what we should be eating.
Corn makes a great example to illustrate what are genetically modified organism because it is one of the most often modified foods on the market. It's used in tons of our processed foods like chips, alcohol, desserts, corn syrup and the ever popular high fructose corn syrup in most of our canned beverages, candies, ice creams, condiments, cereals, baking ingredients, and others. Also, farmers use corn as a cheap feed for their animals.
All these corn products don't come from the corn that we eat off the cob. This is a special corn that has been modified to be resistant to bacteria and has virtually no taste or nutrition.
What are genetically modified organisms doing to the flavors of the plants?
Tomatoes are another popular vegetable to modify because they are so easily affected by disease. Have you ever bitten into a tomato that was bright red by had a mealy texture and almost no flavor? Of course you have, we all have.
Guess what? That was probably a genetically modified tomato, extremely resistant to disease, but almost tasteless and nutrition-less. I think this is why so many children hate tomatoes nowadays-- the ones they have tried have had no flavor.
Anyone who's had a real tomato-- straight from the garden, that drips down your hand when you bite into it, and with that warm sweet taste-- knows that there's no reason on the planet to hate tomatoes.
Genetically modified organisms are taking over the grocery stores, but you can take your own measures to avoid buying them. Buying organic currently safeguards you from eating GMOs. You can also look to buy produce from local organic farmers.