Featured Poem: Genetically Modified

Cornelia DeDona
Member at Large, New York

It was December of 2012. Dad was almost eighty.
Dementia had erased his hunger.
He’d subsisted the last few years on cheap cereal 
made from BT corn and ice cream.
He loved ice cream.
I moved back home after Dad died. After my divorce.
Leaving Hawaii felt like I had base jumped from Everest.
Forced to endure the gravity of free-fall.    
I boldly believed my DNA would protect me.
But, unwittingly, in the ‘90s, 
I  too had become a guinea pig in an experiment. 
I developed an autoimmune disease by age 35, something new to my family.
Brain disease and hypothyroidism,
an autoimmune disease, 
linked to GMOs and excess sugar
were still largely ignored by the family doctor.
Like everyone else,
I had rationalized the altered food as safe.
My stomach wouldn’t dare explode
like the bugs’ who ate the toxic corn.
After all, 
I was genetically strong
like Dad.
BT corn is a genetically modified food, or GMO. A GMO is an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not commonly found there. Genetically modified “Bt corn” has been equipped with a gene from soil bacteria called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), which produces the Bt toxin. It’s a pesticide that breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them. This pesticide-producing corn entered the food supply in the late 1990s, and over the past decade, the horror stories have started piling up. And the problem with Bt crops goes far beyond the creation of Bt-resistant insects. Native to Central America, papaya was the first genetically modified fruit to be grown in commercial production. The genetically modified varieties, known as Rainbow and SunUp or Sunrise, were developed in Hawaii to resist the papaya ringspot virus.


  1. This poem and after text I am going to send to friends and family.
    The horror of it really comes through and though I feel terrible for
    you and your father, I am so glad that you are sharing this. I can
    only hope that today’s children and grand children will not be fed
    foods grown with altered grains and pesticides.

    • Thank you Suzanne. I am passionate about this topic and it is my hope too, that our children are not being fed these tainted products. Our challenge is to educate ourselves and eat organic whenever possible. I look for the organic Non-GMO verified labels at the Supermarket. Eating out is still a challenge but more and more restaurants are coming onboard with farm-to-table options. You can also learn more at :https://responsibletechnology.org

  2. This is such an informative and creative story as a poem. We need more information of how the food products have been treated with chemicals so we can share with our physicians, children and grandchildren.

  3. Sara Etgen-Baker says:

    Wow, Cornelia, you concisely and succinctly shared such a life-altering times in your life. Here’s to you being genetically strong!

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