What do you do when you're under attack? Call for help, naturally. Unfortunately, if you're an ear of corn, and you're being attacked by parasitic beetle larvae, you have nothing to call for help with. Until now.
Scientists at the University of Missouri have genetically modified corn to release a chemical distress signal when under attack from beetle larvae. The chemical 911 call attracts droves of parastitic roundworms that naturally attack the larvae. Within three days of receiving the distress signal, the worms had killed them all.
Originally, all corn made the worm-attracting chemical. However, years of selective mating bred that trait out of the corn grown in the US. To give the corn back its emergency chemical, the scientists inserted a gene from oregano that produces a similar compound to chemical excreted by wild corn.
Currently, there is no plan to introduce the worm-attracting corn commercially, as the scientists are still working on the right cocktail of chemicals to attract the right kind of organisms. However, with rising public outcry over pesticide secreting GM crops, and up to a billion dollars of beetle larvae damage in the US every year, a solution that protects the corn without any harmful pesticides would no doubt attract eager customers and protective worms in equal measure.
A gene from oregano...that produces a similar compound... why not use the gene from wild corn, to produce the exact compound?
I'm not sure I'd want to eat the modified corn anyway, most likely not if I knew which products it was in. Is there a list like that already available? What am I currently eating??
The oregano gene was probably much less complex to reproduce and/or may have had a better attraction quality.
What is the fear about GM foods? Afraid it will bond in your stomach and you'll have an ear of corn for a belly button?
I do think the feds need to mandate unique symbols/labeling for all the organic, non-gm, green produced (and exactly what that means) items. So many companies lie through their teeth about what the product really is.
Still, modification has been the human way. Technically, most of us should be dead from natural selection.
I don't know why some people think genetically modified food would somehow harm you if you ate it. You don't absorb DNA from the food, so you aren't going to change into "Spider-Man" or the "Incredible Hulk" if you do. All the food gets broken down, molecule by molecule in the same exact way other "natural" food has been since the beginning of life on Earth. If there are any toxins in the food that might harm you, it would show up in tests long before you saw it sitting on your dinner plate.
What a shame, I've always admired the Hulk. Lol
The problem is we evolved along with plants, to be able to use some, and not use others. Now we come in, with 100 years of experience and think we know what we're doing with recombinant dna manipulations on food sources...
The problem is we evolved along with diseases, to be able to resist some, and not use others. Now we come in, with 100 years of experience and think we know what we're doing with antibiotics and vaccines...arrogant much?