Re: NANFA-- Genetically Modified Corn and its effect on

Doug Dame (
Mon, 09 Sep 2002 14:57:02 -0400

Bruce Stallsmith wrote (in part) :

>> ... about corn being dependent on cultivation; when
>> left to natural selection, corn will quickly revert to a form
>> not so different from teocinte.

Seems to me that whether it could/would "revert" is dependent on whether the
genetic pool of modern corn still retains the genes to allow that.
Re-application of untempered natural selection will not resurrect the
ancestral plant if the full spectrum of the original genes has been
significantly abridged by 1000's of generations of selective breeding. I lack
any hard facts to know whether it has or has not suffered such a loss, but it
seems almost inevitable, given how long and industriously humans have been
mucking with the genes of corn in particular, indirectly via artificial
selection or more recently directly with what we think of as GM techniques.
And while some of the lost original genes could conceivably be "replaced" by
random mutation ... on a considerable time-scale ... mutation is equally
likely (1) to create different expressions of genes that would "be successful"
and cause the critter in question (corn in this case) to "veer off-course on
its re-tracement path backwards through history to get back to its roots" (if
that phrase makes any sense.)


Doug Dame
The Interlachen Institute for Bumper-Sticker Science
(Interlachen FL)
"You can never go back home.
And neither can Corn.
But maybe Dogs could.
Ba Ba BAH ba-ba-ba BOP.
BOP." (2)
"And All the King's Horses
And All the King's Men
Couldn't put Humpty-Corn
back together ag'in." (3)

(1) "equally likely" meaning the result of many independent mutations, not
equally likely for each individual mutation.

(2) apologies to Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

(3) apologies to Mother Goose

(4) apologies to Capt. James T. Kirk

"Shields Up, Mr. Sulu !!!" (4)
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