Beginning around 11,400 BCE, during the Epipalaeolithic era, humans began taking over for Mother Nature, when our ancient ancestors started selecting plants for certain traits, such as sweetness in fruit, resilience to drought, or simply abundance.
The earliest known crops planted by humans weren't cereals, like wheat, rye or barley, but rather fig trees. Archaeologists in Israel discovered a dwelling near the ancient city of Jericho that contained mutant figs, a rare kind of tree that only reproduces through human intervention by taking a cutting and planting it,
NPR reported in 2006
Flash forward to the 20th century and humans are beginning to manipulate the genes of plants directly rather than just selecting plants based on output. In 1983, a tobacco plant resistant to an antiobitic was the first transgenic, or genetically modified, crop ever produced. A decade later, genetically modified tomatoes hit store shelves in the United States, the first commercially available GM crop.
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