Thursday, March 21, 2013

Girl's Gone Child: Eat Well: GMO no they didn't! (Peas Out)

The following post was written by my mom, without whom I would be a rambling lunatic yelling at the wall and I love her she rules. Go, Mom. 


Up until now, I haven’t tackled the GMO (genetically modified organism) hot button. But now that Whole Foods has announced their fabulous decision to label all GMOs, I thought it’s time. There is so much confusion on the issue and also a lot of misinformation floating around (as proved by the fact that even California couldn’t pass a law requiring GMO labeling) so it deserves to be discussed.

First a little background. Humans have been altering plants since they began growing their own food, but until now, this was done through selection, hybridizing or grafting. Selection means choosing to grow seeds of selected plants that have better qualities than others. Hybridizing means breeding two selections or varieties of the same (or sometimes even different) species with different traits to get another organism exhibiting new characteristics. Think of dog breeding. Hybridizing occurs NATURALLY but we speed up the process by deciding which two plants to “cross” by either hand pollinating, or putting the pollinators next to each other in a field.

The cross, or F1 hybrid as it is called, has traits from both parents. The offspring of distinctly different parents produce a new, uniform variety with specific characteristics from either or both parents. A great example of this is the sugar snap pea. (See below) The one thing to remember about hybridization, however, is that the seeds of the F1 hybrids cannot be used to make more F1 hybrids. Gregor Mendel demonstrated this in his famous pea experiments back in the 1800s and changed our understanding of genetics. Each year, more F1 hybrids need to be created by crossing the original parents, and that is why you need to buy seeds every year if you want to grow hybrid crops. It’s also why you can get some odd things growing in your vegetable plots if you let some of these crops go to seed. (Sorry I got a little carried away with the science, here. As a one-time geneticist, I LOVE this topic!)

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Girl's Gone Child: Eat Well: GMO no they didn't! (Peas Out)

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