This is the first part of several gardening-related posts. I tried several times to just sit down and write an article about choosing and preparing seeds, but I kept coming back to the problems with GMOs. So, let’s deal with the GMO issue first.
What are GMO seeds?
Today, there is a new kid on the block in the seed world- the genetically modified organism, or GMO. This isn’t anything like typical hybrids or carefully selected seeds over many years. This is gene manipulation in a lab to produce combinations impossible in nature, like a pig and a potato, that could never happen in nature.
Are GMO foods safe to eat?
No long term safety tests have ever been done to ensure that GMOs are safe to eat. On the contrary, there are indications that the exact opposite is true. In lab animal feeding studies, the consumption of GMOs led to pre-cancerous cell growth, birth and reproductive abnormalities, sterility, liver damage, and smaller brains. For more information on GMOs, visit Seeds of Deception.
Other concerns with GMOs
Three other major concerns with GMOs are 1) bullying, strong-arm tactics forcing non-GMO farmers to become GMO farmers, 2) Invasive contamination of non-GMO crops, and 3) the overuse of pesticides.
- One of the major reasons that Big Pharma and the medical industry downplay the effectiveness of herbal remedies is because you cannot patent an herb. In other words, there is no money to be made. GMOs are patented. When the wind cross-contaminates a farmer’s crop with GMO pollen, companies that own the patent then sue the farmer for patent infringement. Farmers often strike a settlement deal where they sign contracts to purchase new seed each year from the patent holder. Monsanto is well-known for such bullying.
- When GMOs infiltrate a non-GMO crop, it is an invader contaminating the entire non-GMO crop with undesirable genetic material. Because contamination is so easy, it is extremely difficult to purchase non-GMO corn or soy anywhere in the US. Considering how much processed food contains corn or soy in some form, this is a cause for concern.
- Roundup Ready crops are a type of GMO crop that was developed by Monsanto so it could sell more of it’s pesticide, Roundup. Plants are genetically modified to be able to resist the pesticide, so farmers can use all the Roundup they want. What’s happened? Something absolutely predictable: farmers are now seeing the emergence of Roundup Ready resistant pests. The other major problem is the pesticide itself, as it poisons the soil, water, and our bodies through the food we eat. Crops grown in soil where Roundup was previously applied will draw the residual pesticide into itself, contaminated yet another crop.
I won’t grow GMO
I simply cannot find any good reason to grow this stuff. On the contrary, there is every good and moral reason not to grow it. It is against my values to financially support any company that is involved with producing GMO seeds and/or GMO food. I support seed producers of non-GMO seeds, as well as those who take on the long, arduous, and expensive task of battling GMO giants, like Monsanto, in court.
Monsanto’s direct seed customers are generally larger farms, and not the backyard gardener. However, Monsanto bought the major seed company Seminis, which provides seeds to many of the smaller seed companies that do sell to backyard gardeners everywhere. Any seed purchased through a company that sources it’s seed from Seminis, is ultimately a purchase that benefits Monsanto. That doesn’t sit well with either my common sense or with my moral compass.
What Can We Do?
- Make a commitment the your and your family’s long-term health is more important than cheap convenience foods.
- Buy your seed from seed companies that are committed to providing non-GMO seeds for generations to come.
- If you have a favorite seed company, call and ask if they buy seeds from Seminis. If they do, tell them you do not support GMOs or Monsanto, and will be purchasing your seed elsewhere, as long as they to buy from Seminis.
- Support businesses that continue to offer non-GMO products, like non-GMO corn and non-GMO corn flour. Without a market, these producers and farmers will be forced to find another way to earn a living.
- Buy and store corn seed for the future. While I purchase non-GMO corn and cornmeal for eating, I buy non-GMO corn seed to grow at some point in the future and keep it my personal seed bank.
- Grow a garden, join a CSA farm that uses organic practices, or shop at farm stands and farmer’s markets. Be able to look your farmer in the eye.
- Buy or raise grass-fed meats, and pass on the GMO corn/soy feed, as well as artificial growth hormones (also made by Monsanto).
- Cook from scratch. You can have total control over what goes on your plate this way.
- Educate yourself on GMOs and the food industry. The more awareness you have, the better able you are to avoid GMOs.
- When you find useful information, pass it on to others. (See the resources below.)
Farmers are seeing that the promised yields are not forthcoming, and that pesticide-resistant pests are neither sustainable nor profitable long term. The promise of profits got them into GMO crops, and the reality of losing profit will get them out. Let’s help that along by insisting on non-GMO seeds and foods. Due to the well-known revolving door between Monsanto (executives and lawyers) and appointments to leadership positions of the USDA and the FDA, the government isn’t going to crack down on GMOs. We need to do that for ourselves.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds– Strictly non-GMO heirloom seeds, has participated in legal action to hold Monsanto accountable.
Comstock & Ferre– Strictly non-GMO heirloom seeds, owned by Baker Creek.
High Mowing Seeds– Organic, non-GMO seeds, some heirlooms, has participated in legal action to hold Monsanto accountable.
Fedco Seeds– Some organic, some heirlooms, non-GMO seeds, has participated in legal action to hold Monsanto accountable.
Cultures for Health– Sells non-GMO, sprouted whole corn, corn flour, and grain mills/grinders. Whole corn may be ground to cornmeal.
Seeds of Deception– All manner of GMO information, studies, current news.
Organic Consumers Association– Regular newsletter on a variety of topics effecting organics, including news and action steps regarding GMOs and pesticides.
Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund– Protects the rights of small farms by providing legal assistance. Many farm related topics here, so use their search function for “GMO”.
Food, Inc.- DVD documentary covering various ways our food supply is manipulated.
The Gmo Trilogy And Seeds of Deception Set- From the folks that run the Seeds of Deception web site.
The World According to Monsanto- Book, an indepth look at Monsanto, a chemical company that brought us Agent Orange that has become a GMO and pesticide giant.
The World According to Monsanto- DVD, documentary from the author of the book by the same title