Before being handled, the corn was colored!

If the vegetables marketed in our stores all have almost the same shape and the same colors, it is not at all the result of chance. To arrive at such formatting, it took a lot of time … and a lot of genetic transformations!

Take the case of corn by taking a look at these two images. In your opinion, which of these two varieties has undergone the most genetic changes?

We are so used to seeing them and the yellow grains seem the most “ordinary”. And, on the contrary, one would almost swear that the multicolored spike results from the crazy manipulations of a whimsical agronomist. Yet, it’s quite the opposite: these ears of a psychedelic kind are actually obtained through the use of … very old seeds!

Carl Barnes is an Oklahoma farmer from the Cherokee Indian tribe. One day, trying to reconnect with his roots, he came across a stock of seeds from very old strains. Out of curiosity, he decided to plant them … and here is the result!

Surprised by what he had brought out of the ground, Carl Barnes immediately shared his discovery with the members of his tribe as well as with the farmers in the area.

Since then, this species of corn has been duly listed under the name of glass gem corn, a variety with grains so scintillating that they seem to have been polished like “gems”.

These grains are neither an invention nor a real discovery. In the 1800s, in Oklahoma, we only found that … and not only there. Those who have had the opportunity to travel to countries where agriculture has remained traditional (Madagascar for example) have surely already crossed corn kernels as bright, varied and colorful!

In reality, it’s completely the opposite:

This pretty corn was created from scratch in the 80s and therefore could not exist before.

Indeed, its creator Carl Barnes used ancient seeds and crossed them to finally get this very nice result: the variety “glass gem corn”, edible without being of great culinary interest, but with bright colors and translucent grains. It is good by manipulating different strains of maize by crossing (and thanks to the effect of the transposons) that it obtains this result after many years, and not by finding them by chance and by deciding to plant them.

In 2010, the discovery was ceded to the Native Seeds Foundation, which is responsible for marketing the seeds even today.

And the corn, was it yellow originally?

Well, yes, too.

There are even many varieties (yellow, red, blue, white, black, variegated) since man cultivates corn, which he would have invented from the teosinte. The Aztec goddess of corn Centeolt has even 4 threads, which represent different colors … including yellow.

Imported into Europe on the discovery of the new continent, it is finally the yellow corn that has prevailed in the main crops, probably for taste, acclimation and yield reasons (even if different varieties are still marketed). Maize was cultivated en masse in Europe after the Second World War, the establishment of the post-war agricultural policy.

But obviously, “Healthy & Natural” prefers to play on confusion (but not on the contrary we do not want to play on the confusion), wielding the specter of “manipulation” to turn the beautiful corn into some yellow spike and why not GMOs (since corn is the symbol). Their article fails to tell the story of this friendly farmer who, by crossing different species, allows diversity to continue and stay in motion, as Pierre-Henri Gouyon explains in this conference.

Maize farming goes back 10,000 years, and like all plants, it is by selecting the best “species” that it has been “manipulated” since its inception.

The notion of GMOs (appeared in the 1970s) is different, in the sense that it implies a “transgenesis” by introducing a unique interesting character, and this, in one step, without waiting for several generation of crossing.

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