Amanaa Rendall's picture
Is it true that all corn on the planet is already genetically modified?

A:Expert Answer

Corn has been grown by humans for approximately 10,000 years, and its genetics have been heavily modified through breeding and mutation to improve its utility as a crop over this very long period. The modern technique of transgenesis has been used to further improve the agronomic characteristics of corn over the last two decades. Transgenesis has become synonymous with the term “genetically modified” (GM) over this time period, but it is really a misnomer. So all corn on the planet has been genetically modified by human activities, but not all corn has transgenes inserted by the modern technique of transgenesis.

Content Topics: 


rickspalding's picture

If you have to understand hybrids are made over time. Even natural genetic mutations come into play. Corn today essentially came from some grass years and years ago. But mother nature did the work. Humans can manipulate it such as making diifferent apples by hybrids. Or even cows. there is a rancher whose family has bred only certain breeds over time to create their "super" cows that are bigger and meatier. That is all mother nature. Now companies like Monsanto, splice dna, what have you into organisms to do what they want it to do. Such as BT corn. That BT corn could never in a million years be naturally mutated into the corn. It was been spliced by scientists to add the protein to corn. How does mother nature feel about that? We don't have a long term test to truly know. Some very ignorant people will say that what mother nature has done for genetic modification is no different than what is done in a lab. That is completely false. This BT could never naturally find itself in the corn. And splicing fish dna into tomatoes is not natural in any shape or form.

jtrav21's picture

To address your question Amanaa, only a portion of corn grown commercially today would be considered GMO crops, where a genetic trait has been created with a transgenic crop. It is estimated that ~35% of corn grown today is based on GMO seeds.

See a nice summary here:

To rickspalding's jumble of comments - conventional corn (non-GMO) grown today has very little resemblance to it's original form. Human cultivation and conventional breeding has changed it significantly over the past several hundred years to the high performing, high yield varieties that are farmed today.