Not Just For Dinner
Would you like to meet Mr. Potato Head? Maybe someday youll get your chance. Scientists are doing some amazing things in their laboratories. Theyre creating vegetables and fruits that grow bigger and stronger. That fight off bugs andlove cold weather. That do just about everything but walk and talk.
Someday instead of getting a shot for measles, you might eat an anti-measles cookie.
Even sooner, you might get all your vitamins from one bowl of Golden Rice. The amazing things scientists are creating are called GMOs. Thats short for Genetically Modified Organisms.
Thats Quite a Mouthful!
Genetically Modified Organism is what you get when you snip tiny pieces from one living creature to splice into the seed of another living creature.
The tiny pieces are called GENES, and they carry the codes that translate into all our qualities. In people, genes might tell your body to grow you brown hair and green eyes, or to make you a high jumper or a fast reader.
In plants, genes are what make green beans green and bananas yellow. They control everything from how long it takes a pear to get ripe to what kinds of vitamins and minerals come from a strawberry.
Used to be, genes couldnt be changed. When you planted a seed, whatever came up was what you got.
Now, scientists are learning to take genes out of one thing and put them into another to change its qualities.
Sometimes the exchanges are weird. They tried putting human genes into pigs to make them grow bigger and fatter. That didnt work.
Now theyre sticking fish genes into tomatoes, so the tomatoes, like fish, wont mind cold weather.
The promise of GMOs is food so nutritious that maybe someday there will be no more hungry people in the world.
But not everybody is convinced. Some people worry that the new genes might do unexpected things.
For example, if youre not allergic to a red tomato, you probably wont be allergic to a yellow tomato. But what if youre allergic to fish? Says one worried scientist, Not being allergic to tomatoes tells you nothing about whether youre likely to be affected by a tomato with a fish gene in it.
Old Clothes for Scarecrows - Cleaning out your closet to make room for new school clothes? Donate your old jeans and shirts, pantyhose and stockings, and any old thing cluttering up your drawers to Kinder Farm Park. Then visit their Fall Harvest Festival on October 13 and join the scarecrow-making workshop. Kinder Farm Park, Millersville: 410/222-6115.
Zany Brainy Lego Land - Sept. 22 & 23 (2 pm) Flex your architectural muscles: Help Bob the Builder solve the latest construction dilemma. Zany Brainy, Annapolis Harbor Center: 410/ 266-1447.
Fly With the Birds - Sun. Sept. 23 (2-2:30pm) Soar in the clouds with bird stories at storytime with Sheri. Ages 3-5. Kings Landing Park, Huntingtown. free. rsvp: 410/535-5327.
One Fish, Two Fish - Tues. Sept. 25 (10:30am-noon) Help the ranger net and count fish in the Patuxent River. No need to get wet, but wear clothes that can get dirty. How many fish can we count in one hour? Bring mom or dad and a bag lunch. Treats for everyone. Meet at the pier. Ages 3-5. Kings Landing Park, Huntingtown. $3 w/discounts. rsvp: 410/535-5327.
Flumpa Lives! - Fri. Sept. 28 (12pm & 6pm) At this years Calvert County Fair, join Flumpa, the six-foot swinging tree frog, and his friend, singing scientist and storyteller Wendy Whitten, in a reptilian romp that will get you singing, dancing and cheering. Calvert County Fair, Barstow: