My GMO Experiment

I’ve read a blog post here and there where someone decides to feed an animal both conventional corn(which is most likely GMO) and organic corn. And the animals ALWAYS choose the organic. It’s such an awesome concept – that even the animals can tell the difference between to two! I’m not a supporter of genetically modified foods in any way shape or form and avoid them as often as I can. My husband and I even got into a discussion about it with a farmer at church – ended up leaving it as “we’ll agree to disagree”.

But I’m not one to take “studies” seriously. They really don’t mean a lot most of the time and everyone has their own bias and wanting different outcomes. The interesting part about people trying this themselves was that it normally showed a big difference in preference.

So of course I had to try it myself!

popcorn trial_081011_01

A couple of months ago I grabbed some of my organic popcorn and picked up some regular popcorn at the store as well. Now, it’s not labeled GMO, because unfortunately it’s not required by law for companies to tell us when we’re eating something that’s been modified by scientists. But it’s pretty much assumed that since corn is so highly modified in the US, that if you don’t buy organic, it’s a really good chance it’s had its genes messed with.

I’ve got four laying hens outside (love my girls!) as well as troves of wildlife in the woods right behind my house. So I knew I’d have pretty good subjects. After popping the corn, I made sure to keep it in separate bowls and marked the bottom of the bowls.

popcorn trial_081011_02

Test #1 – I placed a half cup of popcorn on paper plates and put them right next to each other in the chicken pen, before I let them out in the morning. The hens were hungry! So hungry in fact that they ran right over the popcorn plates to get to me and it went flying everywhere! I had to go back in and dump the plates on to the ground so they could just eat the popcorn off the dirt.

Fine. Eat off the ground already.

Outcome – 3 hens ate the conventional first, only one went for the organic. huh.

Slight preference for one over the other. Will test again later.

I also placed two bowls out in the woods to see what the wildlife might do.

popcorn trial_081011_16

Test #2 – Later that day I went out and fed the hens again. This time I learned my lesson and just dumped the popcorn on the ground already.

Outcome – Again 3 of my girls took to the conventional first, and only 1 at the organic pile. Seriously……? Do I have only one smart hen?

Test #2 on whether my girls prefer conventional or organic popcorn.

The wildlife had yet to eat their popcorn.

Test #3 – So far I’m getting kind of annoyed that this test isn’t going the way I’d planned. Is it because my hens are used to conventional corn? (I don’t always buy organic feed) or is the popcorn not genetically modified?

Outcome – In this test two went for one pile, and two went for the other.

popcorn trial_081011_15

The wildlife still had not touched theirs.

At this point I was getting bored with the whole experiment. For every test they basically just ate whatever was closest to them and went from one pile to the next. Watching them I couldn’t see any of them have preference over one type of corn. I ended up just dumping the almost stale popcorn into the pen later that night and this was the only time more of them went for the organic pile first. But then went back and forth between the piles like they had earlier. The next day both bowls in the woods were exactly half gone. Later that day both bowls were empty.

So here I was hoping to be able to tell you that even my lowly chickens knew the difference between good food and bad……and I couldn’t!

What I still believe though is that we probably shouldn’t mess with what God designed. I can only think that if he wanted DNA from a salmon in a vegetable he would have put it there to begin with!


Has anyone ever tried this? What was your outcome?

This post is linked to Real Food Wednesday



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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. That is a fun experiment. It’s a bummer that it did not go how you thought, but I think it is great that you still posted about the results. I think so many times people want a certain outcome and if they don’t get it then they ignore the experiment or interpret the results in a way that supports their own bias.

    Even though the chickens did not seem to have a preference, I agree that it is still best to avoid GMO, it’s just what my gut tells me.

  2. According to Jeffrey Smith (hardly a fan of GMOs), popcorn is not right now being intentionally genetically modified. Probably still affected due to cross-pollination, but it’s not a GM crop right now.

    donielle Reply:

    @Heidi, Thanks so much for the link Heidi! Maybe I should try it with something else…..

    Justine Reply:

    I was about to mention the same thing :) Popcorn is not genetically modified (yet).

  3. Love the pictures of the hens eating the popcorn! But I have read the same as Heidi – according to the Center for Food Safety there is no GM popcorn on the market. Here is a link to a fantastic shoppers guide for avoiding GM foods.

    donielle Reply:

    @Liz, Great link – thanks for the resource!

  4. I’m sorry it didn’t work out! Try it again with real GMO’s please. I’ve never heard of this experiment before.

  5. my in-laws have a dog who will not eat baby carrots (not real baby carrots but the packaged kind) but will eat up organic whole carrots gladly. Not that it involves gmo’s. But of course there is also the junk they dip the baby carrots in so that they stay fresh looking…

  6. I haven’t done this with animals, but my one year old can tell the difference between “home-grown” eggs and store bought eggs, even the organic kind. He eats the “home-grown” version so much better & without spices and cheese in it. It’s crazy, but he can tell the difference.

    donielle Reply:

    @Sarah, We can definitely tell the difference in eggs! The ones we have in our own backyard are a world above store bought eggs. In fact, conventional eggs make me gag. I can’t even stand some of the “free range” eggs from the health food store – you can tell they don’t get out much.

  7. I didn’t know that info about the popcorn not being GMO……yet. Thanks for posting that!
    I enjoyed the experiment Donielle. Thanks for posting even though it didn’t produce the results you were hoping for.

  8. Hmmm… I didn’t know that popcorn is not GMO yet. I was going to comment on how the hens can’t tell GMO or not, but I’ve seen a big difference in the organic, non-gmo (specifically labeled) popcorn & commercial brands when popping it. But since popcorn isn’t gmo, maybe it’s just a difference in brands, but I get 2-3 times as much popcorn from the same amount of kernals when I buy the local organic brand.

  9. How interesting! It makes me happy to hear that popcorn is not GMO. We prefer to buy locally grown popcorn, for other reasons, but now I won’t feel so bad if we happen to buy a bag of a national brand.

  10. I’m almost 100% sure that I read in the GMO Project’s shoppers guide (or somewhere else) that no popcorn is GM.

  11. Oh cool beans! I’ve read the comments about popcorn not being GMO and I’d definitely love for you to try it again :-) We don’t have hens yet or else I would myself! It might be interesting improvising something for the dog…

    I was also reading the comments about the eggs – conventional ones inducing gagging and all :-) I wonder if that’s part of my problem with eggs. I eat them deviled and in things, but when I was younger I overate on fried eggs and now they make me gag. I do have a source for local, free range ones that I’ve been using for things I put eggs in…maybe I should give fried ones a try again now that I know I have safe ones :-)

  12. Michelle says:

    Organic does not mean its non gmo. Sadly, nowadays, you have to find stuff that is labeled as gmo free as well as organic. It may be free of pesticides, antibiotics and hormones, but its usually still gmo , especially if its corn or soy . Id say give your experiment another go.

  13. Dianne Aikey says:

    I have the same comment as some others lol :) Sweet corn is now about 50% GMO, but there is NO GMO ‘popcorn.’ Popcorn is a different strain of corn, and will not cross breed without being clearly ‘different,’ and no longer ‘popcorn.’ Same goes for Blue Corn; there is NO GMO blue corn; if it cross breed would turn blue, ie clearly different. Believe it or not, my family has a farm in Illinois, and tell stories of how the horses will walk THROUGH a corn field to get to the patch of non-GMO. It is highly interesting <3 ..but yes, being that it's an impossibility the popcorn was GMO, I'd re-do the test 😉

  14. “A for effort”! I would have been really annoyed too, lol. I have heard a lot about animals refusing to eat GM food, so that was a fun experiment to try. We plan to get some chickens this fall and plan to buy organic feed in order to avoid the GM corn.
    Our family LOVES popcorn. A few months ago I decided to only buy organic, non-GMO popcorn. The only problem was that I couldn’t find any locally and we wanted it NOW…no waiting for UPS to deliver it! So I went online and did a little research. From what I read, and this could be completely false for all I know, popcorn is NOT genetically modified. Again, I am not a farmer and this is just what I read at a few websites. Now, the thing I wonder is…if you plant popcorn near GMO corn, can they cross-pollinate thus leading to contaminated popcorn…I don’t know! But if anyone else does, I’d love to know…cause we’re still eating conventional popcorn.


  1. […] My GMO Experiment Donielle tried feeding her chickens organic and non-organic popcorn. The results were unexpected, but it led to a nice discovery about popcorn. […]