What is your label telling you or not telling you about your seed?
Some of the advances in seed technology are amazing, creating stronger, healthier, just down right gorgeous variates of plants. Gardner's and Farmer's are always looking at new ways to make a plant disease resistant or faster growing. Could you imagine Hosta's that were totally resistant to slugs or rose's immune to black-spot...oh happy days! This is all good news for the perennial bed and my shade garden, but do I really want these tampered with seeds in my veggie beds and at what cost to my garden and health? What is this plant really? What is the difference between all those labels and does it really matter?
You hear the terms, Organic, Hybrid, Heirloom, Genetically modified seeds a lot these days.
Organic seed is cultivated from a pure and clean seed. It must be from an organic (synthetic and chemical free) parent plant, using only organic methods of growth and disease control.
Heirloom can be both organic or chemically treated, heirloom by name are bred from generations of the same non-tampered seed, year after year and must be open air pollinated. If you like..the pure breed of seed.
Hybrid seed again can be organic or chemically treated and are produced when you cross pollinate/breed from the same variety to form a new plant (kinda like a Labradoodle half Labrador half Poodle) This helps produce plants that are disease resistant, a new color, larger in size...etc. This is how gardeners and farmers have developed new varieties for centuries and is not to be confused by the new Genetically modified way of tampering with seeds. Hybrid labels will sometimes include letters after the plant name, this is to show its disease tolerance.
Why do I not come across GMO seed packs in the store? Really though what is all this GMO seed about? What have they done to the seed to make that tomato grow 10x the size and not rot for 3mths? Will it effect me? What have they crossed this eggplant seed with to make it disease resistant not to mention resistant to pesticides? Sure a lot of this development comes from cross breading and age-old farming practices which is natural (see hybrid) but what is the difference?
Q. Isn't genetic engineering merely a minor extension of traditional breeding practices?
A. No. While farmers have used cross-breeding techniques to cultivate crop and animal species with desired characteristics, genetic engineering represents a radical departure from this practice. Cross-breeding can only occur within closely-related life forms. Genetic engineering allows scientists to cross the species barrier, mixing genetic material among of animals, plants and microorganism. The offspring of genetic engineering would never be found in nature. For example, fish genes have been placed in tomatoes, human genes in tobacco, bacteria in corn, and viruses in squash and fruit. - The Council for Responsible Genetics
Read the rest of article...mind blowing stuff! http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org
You hear the horror stories about commercial farming and the devastation that GMO's have created for our farmers. Particularly by the horrible
OK, I'm calm again! I think this "not knowing" what our produce really is or where it's come from, or how it has been tampered with has inspired a number of us to start our own veggie gardens right here in our own backyards. There is something so comforting, being sure of what seed we are growing, what the soil and plant are being treated with and inevitably what we end up eating. Its simply re-assuring.
This begs the question, how do we know that the veggie seed we are growing in our own, safe, genetically modified free environment is just that? Do seed packs indicate how it came about? Where is the label, number or code to tell us that it has been tampered with genetically?
Seed industry structure table, I know its a little old, but still great resource to show you how "Owned" by big corporation our small pack seed is. Click link above for clearer pic and more info.
Unfortunately for now there is no mandatory labeling on seed packs when it comes to GMO's, just like the food we buy, we are in the dark. The best bet is buy locally direct from the seeder, buy certified organic and/or from these seed companies listed in the link below...These companies have signed the Safe Seed Pledge for 2012.
Really this whole practice is enough to send you to drink or in my case tears, curled up in the fetal position on the floor in the produce section of my local grocery-store...scared out of my mind about what we are really eating. Although thank god my produce section is conveniently located right next to the wine isle, thank you Fred Meyer.
The best thing we can do, is learn and listen to those telling us about what is happening in the world of seed, labeling and GMO's, ask questions from a variety of sources from both sides of the table...learn!
I am looking forward to growing my GMO free veggies this year!
More interesting food-for-thought articles and media....
Sustainable Seed Company's view on GMO's
http://www.organicconsumers.org/ great site for the latest in seed news developments
http://www.takepart.com/foodinc wonderful website for more updates, check out the awesome movie too!
http://www.seedsavers.org/ I love their product and their preservation towards seed
http://www.ornl.gov/ Genomics? Government website, views from the other side of the table (not to get political though!)
Organic vegetables start out as seed Great article to get you up to speed on the seed buy outs!
Other interesting documentaries...Food Matters and King Corn.