Are Cornish Cross GMO's?

Ranita36

In the Brooder
Aug 2, 2020
14
87
38
I am really confused! I did some web searching and got 2 completely different answers on the Cornish Cross. First few articles said there is no such thing as a GMO chicken, they are just selectively bred and considered hybrids. But in order for them to stay classified as non-GMO to feed them a diet free of any GMO's. Another few sources said Yes indeed they are considered GMO. My husband had cancer and was put on a special diet including non-GMO's and organic meats. I am planning on selling some of the meat too and want to be completely honest with my customer base. Can anyone point me in the right direction here in the forums for information or give me insight on this? Thanks.................Ranita
 

iwltfum

Songster
Sep 10, 2018
365
573
136
Maine
Cornish crosses aren't genetically modified. Just selectively bred, inbred, and the breeding stock is fed a myriad of antibiotics and are pawns in corporate greed and a gross misuse of fossil fuels and are generally unsustainable. Some consumers know about this and would rather buy a "specialty broiler" but most don't know enough to say anything - ignorance is bliss. You can legally call them non-GMO if you have fed them only non-GMO feed since day one.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
25,673
15,658
777
Southeast Louisiana
Hi, welcome to the forum. Glad you joined.

Let's try it without the hype, emotion, and propaganda.

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. The exact definition of a genetically modified organism and what constitutes genetic engineering varies, with the most common being an organism altered in a way that "does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.

The Cornish X was developed by selective breeding. People that know what they are doing select which birds get to breed. It's the same process that produced all the different chicken breeds, show champion chickens, and different breeds of dogs or horses. No one has snipped, clipped, or added genetic material. The original Cornish X was developed in the 1950's, before these GMO techniques were available. The first crude GMO techniques were developed in the 1970's.

For plants to be considered "organic", they have to grow from seeds from organic plants and grow in organic soil. That does not apply to animals. For an animal like chickens to be considered organic they can never be fed anything non-organic. It doesn't matter if their parents were organic or not.

One issue that you might have is that it typically takes about 5 years for you to be certified organic. To be certified organic you have to prove that only organic methods have been used for a period of time. Your local organic certifying authority can help you with that. If they forage for anything on your place or you feed them anything you grow you can't classify them as organic unless you are certified organic. A way around that in your advertising is to say that organic methods were used. How much you want to clarify between organic methods and certified organic is up to you.

It sound like you are planning on raising Cornish Cross chickens to eat and to sell. As long as you get chicks that have not yet eaten anything they start out as Non-GMO and organic. Whether they stay that way depends on what you feed them.
 

ChocolateMouse

Free Ranging
7 Years
Jul 29, 2013
3,899
10,840
517
Cleveland OH
The cornish cross is not what most people consider a "GMO".

The cornish cross relies on a non-laboratory induced and naturally occurring phenomena called hybrid vigor or Heterosis. This is a phenomena where two genetically different populations mix and the offspring is more vigorous and larger than either parent. It's most obvious in hybrid animal like mules and ligers where the offspring end up being substantially larger than the parents of either species. Lesser versions of this phenomena are found in the majority of hybrid plants that express disease resistance and greater production, which make up the VAST majority of our food supply and have for hundreds of years, or within-species hybrids like the cornish cross, the Altex rabbit, etc.

However, this phenomena has been heavily exploited in controlled man-made conditions to produce the cornish cross which is commonly considered to be a 4-way hybrid between four unique genetic lines of chickens carefully maintained by producers. The resulting chicken tends to be so heavy and has such an extreme growth rate that it struggles to reproduce naturally (though some people have made it work). But again, this isn't unusual and is common in our food system and has been going on for ages. Most hybrid plants struggle to reproduce as well.

There are currently no laboratory modified animal on the market in the US. Though there have been some experiments, none of them are on the market yet.

If a chicken is labeled "Non-GMO" this usually means it was not fed genetically modified feed.
 

iwltfum

Songster
Sep 10, 2018
365
573
136
Maine
hype, emotion, and propaganda.
Hey, I say it like it is. Can't help myself sometimes. lol. I wasn't trying to judge anyone's decision to raise or buy cornish cross chickens- I raised them for several seasons myself, knowing full well that it was my best economical option. I was only trying to explain why some ill-informed consumers look at them as "GMO" due to the other problems that mirror fatal systemic issues in the broader agriculture industry. Not propaganda. Maybe an opposing view to some, but my statement was based in fact and first hand experience.
 

3KillerBs

Crowing
11 Years
Jul 10, 2009
2,174
3,386
346
North Carolina Sandhills
Let's try it without the hype, emotion, and propaganda.
Well said.

People who have never known things to be different lose sight of the fact that the Cornish X broiler and the methods by which they are mass produced are responsible for changing "A chicken in every pot," from a promise of prosperity, even luxury, to the means of providing inexpensive protein to even the poorest people (even in today's COVID-panic inflated prices I can still occasionally find those 10# bags of leg quarters on sale for less than $1/lb).

My mother, born in 1939 as the Depression gave way to WWII, remembers that when she was growing up in the 1940's and 50's a chicken dinner was still a treat.
 

ChocolateMouse

Free Ranging
7 Years
Jul 29, 2013
3,899
10,840
517
Cleveland OH
Cornish crosses aren't genetically modified. Just selectively bred, inbred, and the breeding stock is fed a myriad of antibiotics and are pawns in corporate greed and a gross misuse of fossil fuels and are generally unsustainable. Some consumers know about this and would rather buy a "specialty broiler" but most don't know enough to say anything - ignorance is bliss. You can legally call them non-GMO if you have fed them only non-GMO feed since day one.
Hey, I say it like it is. Can't help myself sometimes. lol. I wasn't trying to judge anyone's decision to raise or buy cornish cross chickens- I raised them for several seasons myself, knowing full well that it was my best economical option. I was only trying to explain why some ill-informed consumers look at them as "GMO" due to the other problems that mirror fatal systemic issues in the broader agriculture industry. Not propaganda. Maybe an opposing view to some, but my statement was based in fact and first hand experience.

Actually I think ridgerunner is right here. For example, your claim that they are a misuse of fossil fuels. Most fossil fuel problems with meat come from two places, feed conversion ratios and manure management. Cornish crosses use less fossil fuels than a "sustainable" chicken breed because their FCR is twice that of a lesser chicken. So they eat half as much feed, and require half as much total input per lb of meat. Manure management is a serious problem in modern CAFO farming, but that has nothing to do with the chickens, they don't produce more fecal matter per lb of meat, it has to do with farm management. Lastly it's about transport, which again, is more about management than the birds. And that's all going to be on a farm-by-farm basis, not a bird-type basis.

Most farmers over the years use "unsustainable" hybrids. While I disagree with the way this takes control of food from farmers, I have to admit they work. I planted hybrid tomatoes this year and they're not dying to blight despite a wet, cool summer, unlike my heirlooms the last 3 years. If I grow them for a few years it can help manage the fungal diseases in my soils without chemicals, allowing me to go back to heirlooms in the future. Hybrids have an important role even in sustainable agriculture. If you're just raising a batch of chickens for 8-12 weeks for the broadest market most people agree you don't need to own the parent stock. Many farmers buy steer cows and raise them for 12-18 months and then sell or eat the meat. This is pretty common practice across the industry and has been since before the cornish cross even existed.

I agree that many consumers associate them as GMO, even though they are not. I think GMOs have some serious problems, like the patenting of seeds, and aggressive tactics the remove small farmers, but that's starting to spread into even OP varieties too. :T So it's important to recognize that the systems that enable these things have nothing to do with hybrid plants/animals... They have to do with the systems. And the only way that's gonna change is through a change in lobbyists and laws.

Hybrid chickens are part of a broken system. but they could be part of a regenerative one just as easily. If they didn't exist, something else would fill that role in the broken system instead.
 

iwltfum

Songster
Sep 10, 2018
365
573
136
Maine
Lastly it's about transport, which again, is more about management than the birds. And that's all going to be on a farm-by-farm basis, not a bird-type basis.
Centralized and nationwide transportation was what I was referring to with my fossil fuels comment. Feed grains, milled feed, chicks, chickens to butcher, chickens to processor, processor to stores. Lots of times these places are across the country from the next step in the process using up an incredible amount of fuel and resources in the process. The reason local places for these necessary processes rarely exist anymore is because of vertically integrated monopolies taking over the chicken industry.

I planted hybrid tomatoes this year and they're not dying to blight despite a wet, cool summer, unlike my heirlooms the last 3 years. If I grow them for a few years it can help manage the fungal diseases in my soils without chemicals, allowing me to go back to heirlooms in the future.
Hybrids have an important role even in sustainable agriculture.
But if you carefully selected seed from your best performing heirloom tomatoes (even while growing hybrids separately), in a couple of years, your tomatoes would be more fit for your specific climate and even for your own specific micro-climate and then you would be able to save your seed and offer it to others in your area and you would have an open pollinated version specifically bred for your climate that would thrive in your garden and the gardens of your neighbors. Nature has a way of sorting itself out, but we puny humans often don't have the time or patience for it so we decide to go the easy route. I'm guilty of it in so many ways, but I'm brutally honest with myself and others about it, because, yes, I think we are in a transition that requires us to be acutely conscious of these things so we can make informed decisions instead of blindly (not in reference to your tomatoes) choosing to go the easier route because we don't understand the implications of our decisions. Don't get me wrong, I totally agree that cornish cross raised in a good way is just as good of meat as any other chicken raised in the same manner, but it's those nagging implications of the entire process that get me.

If you're just raising a batch of chickens for 8-12 weeks for the broadest market most people agree you don't need to own the parent stock.
No, but - for a start- we could sure use more localized hatcheries that hatch out chicks that would be hardy to a specific area and not all owned by the same people.

Many farmers buy steer cows and raise them for 12-18 months and then sell or eat the meat. This is pretty common practice across the industry and has been since before the cornish cross even existed.
I've worked with people that do this, and have worked with people that own cow/calf operations. I would buy a young steer from a cow/calf operation to raise for meat if that was my best option, but I would buy first a neighbors calf that was raised thoughtfully from birth to butchering age in a pasture next to my house or down the road, if that was an option. It's just a gradient of decisions that each person has to make based on their own situation. There is always a grey area.

So it's important to recognize that the systems that enable these things have nothing to do with hybrid plants/animals... They have to do with the systems. And the only way that's gonna change is through a change in lobbyists and laws.
I disagree, the flawed systems and the hybrids are intertwined at their core. One wouldn't exist without the other. Efficiency at the cost of health, economy at the cost of husbandry, and subsidization at the cost of the people are the only way either exist.

Hybrid chickens are part of a broken system. but they could be part of a regenerative one just as easily. If they didn't exist, something else would fill that role in the broken system instead.
I agree and I would go so far as to say hybrid chickens are a major part of the regenerative transition process and I'm glad we can agree on that point. I grow hybrid chickens (freedom rangers), but I am part of the process in order to break down the system because I know the only way for future generations to survive is for us to move away from the way our food system operates currently and I know the only way for that to happen is by a slow transition that requires farmers and those who grow their own food to straddle the fence for a while - maybe a long while.

I am sorry if I get passionate about this topic. I really am. I don't mean to seem like I'm up on my high horse looking down at people. I see everyone on here as my cohort and peer and I don't think cornish cross chickens are some kind of evil bird that no one should be involved with. And I have a deep kindred respect for people who raise their own food of any kind- no matter the methods they use or the stock they choose. But I have spent alot of time learning about the history and anthropology of agriculture and animal husbandry and I realize that my opinion is just that, my own dang opinion, but I'm here to inform based on my best knowledge so I had to respond to this because I won't let what I said be labeled as propaganda. It's not political at all. These are social issues when it comes down to it. And it takes social change to make the transition back to a regenerative form of agriculture.
 

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