So, Masters of Nature?

We are all now being manipulated by corn . . . [The idea of ethanol] is the final triumph of corn over good sense. It is part of corn’s scheme for world domination. And you will see, the amount of corn planted this year will be up dramatically from last year and there’ll be that much more habitat because we’ve decided that ethanol’s going to help us.

Michael Pollan, TEDTalks 2007 

Corn: Manipulative Genius
We are the corn. Resistance is futile.

If you look at nature as a system where one species attempts to manipulate others in order to impose its will, you quickly realize that the greatest example of dominion of one species over another is the agricultural revolution. Here, plants–food plants, specifically, followed by flowers–figured out that the best way to become superior to their competition (other plants) was to entice humans to start planting them. More habitat is therefore created for those plant species. They’re so good at it, in fact, that they’ve gotten us to wipe out entire forests in order to help them propagate. The kings of manipulation are, of course wheat, rice, and corn.

Maybe the Paleo diet crowd is right: grains are evil. Evil geniuses!  

Admittedly, this might be giving plants a lot more credit than they’re due. For example, we created corn and modified to our liking; it didn’t have much say in the matter. Nor did apples, when we began to breed them in such a way as to make them sweeter.

Still, the thought is entertaining. The idea that plant populations would evolve to be more pleasing to species that will help them propagate isn’t that far fetched, at least from an evolutionary standpoint.

All hail our old plant-based overlords.

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