(Aug. 20) For Great Lakes states, it’s the zebra mussel, gobbling more than its share of nutrients from the aquasystem.

In California, it’s the glassy-winged sharpshooter, which spreads debilitating Pierce’s disease among grapevines.

To the South, it’s kudzu, introduced as erosion control in the Great Depression but now choking out anything in its way.

It is the broad category of invasive species, which many states are now grappling with, trying to preserve native plants, animals and insects. Make that read: weeds, critters and bugs.

Not that I have anything against weeds, critters and bugs. They’re all part of nature’s diversity, playing a role in balancing out one another’s population.

But what if an invasive species that displaces regional rungs in the evolutionary ladder happens to be … not so natural? More to the point, what’s to keep genetically modified organisms from being considered invasive?

Indeed, GMOs, be they fish, fig or whatever, didn’t just happen upon the scene themselves. They were introduced.

Increasingly, more attention is being given to invasive species. Legislation just passed in New York creates a task force to examine the causes and effects of invasive species. Although the task force is relatively toothless, its mere existence may be a bellwether.

Cranberries, blueberries and persimmons are native to North America.

Now, what if a genetically modified plant of some sort was showed to have contaminated the gene pool of blueberries? And what if it produced plump, juicy, sweet berries, even better than the real thing? That could be a good thing.

But suppose an insect that feeds on corn develops an immunity to biotech corn, which produces a toxin to kill certain insects. Further suppose that this immunity makes the insect stronger, hungrier. It turns its attention to something else, like fresh produce. Is this insect now an invasive species? It didn’t exist before the biotech corn, so the argument could be made.

This scenario is far-fetched, but that’s the nature of unintended consequences. As much noise as environmentalists make over plain old invasive species, the outcry could be severe if a problem were traced to biotech.