The Evolution of Corn.  Courtesy of economist Brad DeLong,  biologist Stephen Matheson describes how corn was developed by generations of "genetic engineering." 

Corn is a grass, but a grass that's been so extensively modified genetically that it's barely recognizable (to non-specialists like me) as a member of that family. Wait...genetically modified? Yes, and I'm not talking about the really modern tricks that gave us Bt corn or Roundup Ready corn. In fact, the wonderful stuff they grow in Iowa is quite different from the plants that humans first started to harvest and domesticate in Central America a few millenia ago. Corn as we know it is the result of a major evolutionary transformation, driven by selection at the hands of humans.

posted August 18, 2008 at 1:10 p.m.