GM fruits and vegetables have undergone a process wherein scientists alter their genes with DNA from different species of living organisms, bacteria, or viruses to get desired traits such as resistance to disease or tolerance of pesticides. By now, you’ve likely heard about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the controversy over whether they’re the answer to world hunger or the devil incarnate.
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What fruits and vegetables looked like before genetic modification
Here is a list of 5 common foods that looks totally different from when man cultivated them centuries ago:
1. Genetically Modified Eggplant
Modified eggplants are hardy and endure more extreme temperatures. They are also far tastier than their ancestors. The Bt brinjal is a suite of transgenic brinjals (also known as eggplant or aubergine) created by inserting a crystal protein gene (Cry1Ac) from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into the genome of various brinjal cultivars. The insertion of the gene, along with other genetic elements such as promoters, terminators, and an antibiotic resistance marker gene into the brinjal plant, is accomplished using Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation. The Bt brinjal has been developed to give resistance against lepidopteran insects, in particular, the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer (Leucinodes orbonalis)(FSB). Mahyco, an Indian seed company based in Jalna, Maharashtra, has developed the Bt brinjal.
2. Genetically Modified seedless watermelon
Humans have bred and altered watermelons to make it’s interior red and fleshy. Watermelons have been modified in such a way that there is a change in its size and color while keeping the flavors intact.
The first seedless watermelon was created 50 years ago. A seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid that is created by crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seed coats inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds. This is similar to the mule, produced by naturally crossing a horse with a donkey. This process does not involve genetic modification.
3. Wild Carrot
The first carrots were grown in the 10th century in Persia and Asia Minor and are believed to have been originated white or purple with a thin, forked root. Wild carrot is a member of the carrot family, which includes parsley, fennel, and angelica. Wild forms have thin, wiry taproots, bearing little resemblance to the bright orange, fleshy root vegetable available commercially, although both share the characteristic carrot fragrance. Delicate white flower heads are produced after the second year of growth, and these have inspired the common name Queen Anne’s lace.
4. Genetically Modified Corn
Now, corn is 1,000 times larger and is much easier to peel and grow, with 6.6% of it made up of sugar, compared with just 1.9% in natural corn. About half of these changes occurred since the 15th century when European settlers started cultivating the crop.
Have you ever wondered how corn evolved? After all, the seeds are all crammed together on the cob and wrapped tightly inside the thick husks. It seems impossible for the seeds to disperse without a human to peel the husks and separate the kernels.
Evidence from archaeological and genetic studies suggests that maize was bred and cultivated by early inhabitants of Mexico as early as ten thousand years ago. The early Mesoamericans managed to develop corn from its grassy ancestor by selective breeding. Maize was bred from a wild grain called teosinte.
The first bananas are thought to have been cultivated about 10,000 years ago in what is now known as Papua New Guinea. Portuguese colonists in the 15th and 16th centuries established banana plantations in the Atlantic Islands, Brazil, and Western Africa. North Americans soon began consuming bananas on a small scale; it was only until the 1880s that it became more widespread. Today our hybrid bananas come from two wild varieties, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana, which had large, hard seeds, like the ones in this photo. The modern banana has much smaller seeds, contains more nutrients, and, it has been conjectured, tastes much better.