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GMO’s, Genetically Modified Humans, and Miracles


A friend of my family proudly reiterates his relation to the man who invented the boysenberry.  Seems odd to say “invented” yet I’m pretty sure that’s the term he uses. “Inventing” food is happening all the time in labs around the world. All the while other food varieties- maybe once natural, are dying off at record speed. Did you know carrots used to be purple? They graduated to orange by old-school agricultural engineering in the 17th century. Parsnips, on the other hand, have no glorious color or fancy history. They look a bit like a carrot but are unobtrusively white.


I didn’t even know what parsnip was until I was past 40 years old. The other day in the grocery store a stranger asked me about the parsnips in my cart. What do you cook them in? Are they good? It makes me wonder how the carrot got such good PR and the parsnip is left in the dust (or the dirt, more aptly). People don’t even know what it is.


Would the world be any better, or worse, without the parsnip? One must wonder. Would there be more or less parsnips with an added flash of color? How many people have never had a parsnip and lived perfectly compete lives? Has anyone ever said, “OMG – I can’t live without parsnips!”


I don’t know.


Someone liked them enough to tell me to try them, included them in a recipe, and I’ve had them on the grocery staple list ever since. I’ve come to like them in part because they don’t seem in any way invented. They seem real. Boring, but real. The concept of not invented or manipulated appeals to me.



Humans, as a race, continue making the same grand mistakes as we have throughout history. Some bigger and grander than ever before, and yet, we do look a little different, we walk a little differently, and brag that we’ve come so far from 1000 years ago. Then…when the lights turn off and the keyboard closes, we lay in the darkness, alone or not alone, and long for the same comforts as 1000 years ago. In between the time humans began and now, there is also invention.


Including inventing changes to our own species, which is not nearly as controversial as one would think. “One,” I guess, is me. The consensus seems to be: Why wouldn’t “we” want to invent better, grander, versions of our race.


At the point of conception, and for a short time after, a genetic code is built, chromosomes thread, cells create and recreate again and again until an embryo becomes a fetus and a fetus becomes an infant and somewhere along that process, a mother concedes she is carrying her child. Or, at least, a child. Throughout the life of a person, these cells holding our genetic code continue creating and recreating.


The science currently at work creating a new recipe for human genetic code is called gene editing.  Complex and in some realms, very exciting news! Somatic gene editing is gene therapy created to help living humans. At its best, it will be a tool to treat consensual people in ways that will improve his/her quality of life. Germline gene editing happens pre-birth, often even preconception, by editing the eggs or sperm. This concept of building a human will, by all indications, not only include the life created but also his descendants.


Already on the PR train, the germline gene editing information alters the term in the media to genetic enhancement. Perpetuating the assumption that some genes are inherently better than others.




“Let us plant and grow the child of your dreams” The slogan scrolls across the billboard with photos of blue eyes and porcelain cheeks. “The child that will complete your family. Families bred from perfect seeds.” The next ad continues the theme, “Trim out the weeds of imperfection. Our human race improves with each re-invention of genetic code.” A doctor in a lab coat smiling at a woman who looks lovingly at her belly conveys the only choice.


The children that don’t look like those on the billboard, the children with imperfect skin, eyes the wrong shape, hair and smiles difficult to manage – these children have no place in the world. They come from the tainted soil, they grow among the rocks – maybe even under, and cling to the dark and hidden places, knowing the sunlight brings eyes and eyes bring judgement.


It is better to spare these children a life at all.




In the story of The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein tells of a Tree that loves a boy so much it gives, and the boy takes, until there is literally nothing left of the tree to give. The tree in the story gives willingly, volunteering each break. Our Mother Earth gave us oceans deep with life, fields of glory, and miracle filled forests. And “the boys” of earth take. Take. And Take. Over and over, they amputate, atomize, then leave as ash the gifts Mother Earth conceived.


“The boys” segregate life by whatever means convenient to keep power, divide the living into classes of worth, tear men and women down to a basic consumable value, then continue the mutilation and deprivation in order to keep the power chasm wide and clear. The takers take and the segregated have less say than the Tree.


Regardless of roots, men, women, and children are pushed or taken. Forced to grind our gifts. To forfeit their greatest allies. Churn hope to ash.


Someday the earth will have nothing to give and the takers will retreat to their tower. New lines will be drawn, new divides will crack them apart, and “the boys” will be alone on their stubbled planet. Some say the segregated masses will find their reward in the next plane. Some believe the earth will swallow the takers whole.

My humble supplication to the wind, “Peace for the suffering. Rest for the weary. Comfort and relief for our Mother Earth and all she supports upon her.”




There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.”  Often attributed to Albert Einstein and commonly understood to be an endorsement of the miracles around us, it can also be inferred that the speaker believes nothing is a miracle. It is possible that every single action, reaction, and creation comes from a logical progression with a complete scientific explanation. Of course, it also depends on a personal definition of miracle.


A seed fell from a tree, then was pushed by creatures, wind, and rain into the earth, soon enough exploded with life, extended roots, emerged from the soil then grew hundreds of feet tall and continues to live after one thousand years – sounds miraculous although every step along its journey is explained.


One of my eggs made it from conception to embryo, to fetus, to child. Sometimes I’m asked, Why only one? Other times, most other times, I wonder How that One made it? How did that one stubborn amazing child come from a stack of scientific odds that said, Impossible. Medical conditions that said – Never.


A perfect alignment of science and decisions has led to a full life of growing and learning and sharing. Yet, any accident or tragedy can happen in a moment. And this same alignment of science and decisions may be leading us to distortion, to adversity. We live well now; we will see hard times again.


We, all of we, are surrounded and faced with death. No one knows when or why it will strike those near to us, or those we’ve lost touch. This week I mourn the death of 30 strangers across the ocean and I mourn the death of a friend who I lost touch with.


“Death doesn’t discriminate
Between the sinners and the saints,
it takes and it takes and it takes
and we keep living anyway.
We rise and we fall
and we break
and we make our mistakes.
And if there’s a reason I’m still alive
when everyone who loves me has died
I’m willing to wait for it.”


From Hamilton.  


But the moral of this story isn’t to wait for it. It’s to pursue…it.




What seeds are we planting? We throw our seeds around the world.  The seeds of the cotton tree float for miles, drift softly or are pushed by winds out of control. We do not know where our seeds will land, if someone or something will push them into the soil of our communal universe, love them or leave them, and if these seeds will ever explode and create.


Do you live your life planting for the future? Your future, the future of those you love, the future of those you have never met? Do you cultivate the earth? The living?


“Look at where you are
Look at where you started
The fact that you’re alive is a miracle
Just stay alive, that would be enough”


Also, From Hamilton.


“The fact that you’re alive is a miracle.”

This is true of everyone I know.


The giant redwood is a miracle.

Growing plants from jeans is a miracle.


“Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now…”


You are a miracle.



This has been a doubly inspired post. First from a prompt shared by the talented and prompt giving C Jai Ferry, with a photo of jeans with plants coming from them.  Then, coincidentally, Finding Ninee‘s Finish The Sentence Friday Prompt: With this photo I feel… There’s still time to join and look around here.

And, as is frequent here – Here’s a song to leave you with.

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5 Responses to “GMO’s, Genetically Modified Humans, and Miracles”

  1. Ah, Mardra. This is beautiful and thought-provoking as always. I hope humanity never accepts “ordering” a “perfect” child. At LTYM here this year, our director read a piece about why she hates The Giving Tree and how it teaches boys to be manbabies, taking and taking and taking…
    I tend to see miracles everywhere.

  2. I choose miracles. And each of my children, imperfect and flawed and beautiful, are miracles. Thank you for your thoughts.

  3. BT Long says:

    “Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up
    where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed.
    Convince me that you have a seed here,
    and I am prepared to expect wonders.”

    ~ Henry D. Thoreau, Faith in a Seed

    So, you know, we plant seeds.

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