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What’s a GMO? Do Trees Sneeze?

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Bless you. Trees don’t sneeze. People sneeze. Dogs sneeze. Lions sneeze.

But trees don’t sneeze ‘because they don’t have any noses, or nasal passages, or lungs like people and animals.

So what does sneezing trees have to do with GMOs? Surprisingly just about everything—and I do mean everything. Why trees don’t sneeze and people do all happened about 100 billion years ago when Mother Nature was bored and decided to have some fun. Her fun and games is the reason we have noses and trees don’t.

GMO=Genetically Modified Organism
Sometimes it is called GM (not General Motors)=Genetically Modified or GE (not General Electric)=Genetically Engineered. They all mean the same thing, Genetically Modified Organisms. When we talk about genes and organisms, we are talking about something that is living and able to reproduce itself. We are talking about sex here and the difference between non-living things like rocks that do not have sex with each other to make more rocks, and living things like plants and animals that do have sex but not with each other, well, not until now which is the Modified part and M in GMO. You have to understand the gene thing before you can understand modified. This is rocket science but …

Keeping It Simple Simon. KISS
I am no scientist so I will keep it simple. And because I am a mom we are going to be looking at this sex thing from a mom’s point of view.

First: Let’s break down GMO. G stands for genetic. Genetics has to do with genes. Genes come from a combination of elements. Elements are made up of atoms. And that takes us to … In the Beginning … In the Beginning there was Mother Nature. Mom, to you and me. Mom just finished cooking up some universes and galaxies far far away and wanted something to take her mind off work. She took a handful of Atoms that were just laying around from her last job and a little pinch of starlight, rolled it up into a big ball and said, “Go for it.”

In the Beginning
What do you get when you put all this stuff together? You get great balls of swirling atoms falling all over themselves trying to get organized.

There was a lot of jockeying for positions during this start up stage. Atoms with negative charges fighting with the positive charges hooking up with each other making new stuff. Great balls of cosmic energy. They put on quite a show.

Mom was amused but warned them to stop all the bickering and start working together. Next thing She knew all those little atoms came back to her so proud of themselves and said, “Look what we did Mom.”

Yup, that’s the periodic table with all the elements: Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Sodium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sulfur, gold, sliver, and so on. This is the game plan the atoms came up with when they all started to play nice with each other. The simplified version in lay terms is Fire, Water, Air, and Earth.

“This is good,” Mom said. “What else can you do?” I’ll be back in an hour to check on you. Mom came back in about an hour Her time, a billion years our time, and was delighted to see everyone getting along. One group was just lying around doing nothing. They were done playing a long time ago. We are going to call this group the inorganic non-living, couch potato group. Non-living—as in rocks, diamonds, gold, stuff just lying around waiting for someone to discovery them. Eureka. They have nothing to do with our GMO story.

Blip. Blip, Blip. We interrupt this blog to bring you a news flash. Orders from headquarters, that would be Samson the blog master is, I have to hold these blogs down to 500 words. I’m at 654 and we know who is counting. Because Samson is such a stickler about the numbers and we are just getting started, this is going to be a six part series. Keeping it Simple is very complicated. Not really. Well, just a little. Next time we are going to talk astrophysics and what happened that started a chain reaction of living organisms that are hell bent on taking over the world. Really.

In the meantime, Samson will be here next Friday talking about something really cool no doubt.



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