What are the differences between genetically modified organisms (GMO) sometimes called GM, hybrid and heirloom seeds? Some people think hybrid and GMO are the same thing – they are not the same.
GMO – Genetically modified organisms. The seed has been modified on the genetic level. For example, a scientist may splice the gene from a fish into a corn seed. In nature that could never happen.
Hybrid – Cross pollination between two related species. For example, cross breed a horse and a donkey and you get a mule. A mule is a hybrid between two closely related species. In the plant kingdom, closely related plants can cross pollinate. If the seeds from a hybrid are saved, the seeds may be sterile. If the seeds do grow, the plant may not be like its parents.
Heirloom – Pollinated by its own species. Saved seeds will bear true to form. The seeds can be saved from this plant, and replanted over and over.
Video explaining the difference between GMO, hybrid and heirloom.
Are GMO Crops Safe
One of the issues with GMO is people are not sure how the spliced genes affect humans. Scientist claim genetically modified crops are safe for long term consumption. Let’s say corn has a fish gene that produces a toxin that kills bugs. How will that toxic affect humans? Also, how will that toxin affect humans after years of consumption?
We know certain chemicals cause cancer after decades of exposure. How can we be sure the toxin in GMO corn is safe for long term consumption?
Hybrid and heirloom plants are safe to eat. We know this because humans have been eating them for thousands of years.
Another question, will that toxin producing gene get passed to other crops by cross pollination?
Are GMO Crops Worth The Investment
A lot of money and technology has been invested into GMO crops, and will continue to be invested. But to what end?
In the early 2000’s a strain of rice was developed called Golden Rice. Golden rice was developed to produce vitamin A, which white rice does not produce. It was hailed as a marvelous breakthrough that was going to help prevent vitamin A related blindness across the world. Over a decade later, Golden Rice has yet to be mass produced in the quantities that would help poor nations.
Then there is the cost issue. Poor nations simply do not have the money to buy massive amounts of GMO seed. Not when heirloom seeds can be saved free from the previous crop.
This article is not attempting to say whether GMO crops are safe to eat, that is up to the reader to decide. Present the evidence and let the consumer make an educated decision.