Article: Seed Greed: A Battle for Control: This is an important issue for all

 
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Image Seed Greed: A Battle for Control
By Larry Rettig on March 20, 2011

A battle for control of the seeds you sow in your garden is raging in the worlds of home gardening and large-scale agriculture. Corporations are spending billions of dollars to win that war. At stake are thousands of plant varieties that we as gardeners have come to know and love. [INSPIRED BY INTERESTING AND SOMETIMES PASSIONATE READER RESPONSE, I HAVE DONE SOME ADDITIONAL RESEARCH AND OFFER MY FINDINGS AT THE END OF THIS ARTICLE.]

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ImageZanymuse
Mar 20, 2011 5:43 PM CST
Name: Brenda Essig
Rio Dell, CA
This problem is one that affects every person on the planet. The problem is that the heritage seeds we plant and harvest fresh seeds from through open pollination can be contaminated by the GMO crops in the area. When that happens our new seeds are no longer pure heritage seeds and under the law we are then guilty of using the "property" of one of these corporations illegally.

I have yet to find an instance of an organic farmer suing and winning a suit against those corporations for contamination of their crops. When that happens, we may finally see an end to some of this madness.
Playpen of Graphics FREE graphics, FREE Jigsaw puzzles!
Zany's Playpen
ImageSharon
Mar 21, 2011 1:06 AM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
And that's the saddest part of the whole thing, the contamination from GMO crops. I see no way to stop it because of the expense of legal proceedings.

It is a very important article, Larry, and along with Zany, I agree that everybody needs to read it.

It's also very important to know about the Seed Bank. Thanks for all the information you've shared with us about it.
ImageAndi
Mar 21, 2011 2:29 PM CST
Name: aka GardenQuilts
Facebook, NGA
and the beloved Winston the pug
I have visited both DuPont and Monsanto chemical plants. Although modern scientific innovations have in some ways improved life for many people, I don't want to be limited to buying seeds from the same companies who created Agent Orange and fueled the gas chambers of the nazis. Besides, the increasing prices and the lack of variety of both seeds and plants in the local stores are uninspiring. I suspect that they see the trend of more people growing their own vegetables as a potential for profits. They may be disappointed to learn that many of these people aren't interested in the hybrid seeds and plants that they offer.

I agree that the best thing that informed gardeners can do is to buy seeds from independent companies like seed savers and also to save, share and trade seeds from our own gardens.
Imagecleanbean
Mar 22, 2011 6:30 AM CST
Name: Jake Austin
Ky
Let us not forget that Monsanto has also developed a seed that has a "self-destruct" gene, which makes the seeds destroy themselves after the growing season, making seed-saving impossible anyway. What is the mindset behind such an idea? The idea seems totally evil to me. Also, I don't think Monsanto has helped anyone but themselves. All they have done is make crops dependent on fertilizers that they sell. It has been proven that organic products make more money per acre than big "Monsanto dependent" crops. After the foarmer buys Monsanto's seed, buys Monsanto's round-up, and uses Monsanto's fertilizer, there is nothing left in the farmer's pocket except small government subsities and thousands of acres of worthless, nutrient deficient dirt.
He that controls the seed, controls the food, and in turn controls the world.
CarolineScott
Mar 23, 2011 9:14 AM CST
A well written article on an important topic.
I sometimes obtain seeds from Seed Savers Exchange in one of the Garden centers here.
In Canada we have Seeds of Diversity, an organization which is much like your Seeds Savers Exchange.

I find, over all, I get better germination from seeds from other gardeners than seeds from the large for profit companies.
ImageLarryR
Mar 23, 2011 9:13 PM CST
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA
Thank you all for caring about this issue and for your comments.

I apologize for the late response. Our computer has been in the repair shop the past two days. When I brought it home this afternoon and hooked it back up, I had no Internet connectivity. My computer guru and I spent most of the rest of the afternoon trying figure out the problem. It finally came down to a defective router. I had to install a new one and just now finally got back on the 'net. For the most part, technology is wonderful, but when it fails us, we realize how dependent we've become upon it.
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
As a gardener: When planning for a year, I plant corn. When planning for decades, I plant trees. When planning for life, I train and educate people.


Website: https://cottageinthemeadow.plantfans.com/
mamajack
Mar 24, 2011 8:58 AM CST
Name: barb allison
Fate, Texas zone 8a
i appreciated this article very much. i am really behind the times in learning about companies like monsanto. but i am mad now.

when you go into home depot or walmart to buy seeds..........where do those come from? are they all GMO'S? and does gmo always mean that they are laced with round-up or does gmo just mean that they have removed dna from a carrot and placed it in a bean seed.

selective breeding to me is where you grow a patch of corn. or beans. and you take seeds from the best plant of the bunch. and use only those to plant your garden the next year.

i have not done a lot of research and the research i did do was biased AGAINST monsanto. one thing i did find is that several of monsanto higher ups got appointed to white house posts only to return to monsanto after the next president comes in.

ImageLarryR
Mar 26, 2011 12:11 AM CST
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA
Hi Barb--Glad to see your comments here as well. Everyone's comments have inspired me to do some additional research, which I have added at the end of my article. You can see it here: http://cubits.org/articlesongardening/articles/view/944/
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
As a gardener: When planning for a year, I plant corn. When planning for decades, I plant trees. When planning for life, I train and educate people.


Website: https://cottageinthemeadow.plantfans.com/
ImageZanymuse
Mar 26, 2011 12:52 AM CST
Name: Brenda Essig
Rio Dell, CA
Thank you for the additional information. I can only hope that something will be done soon to put a stop to this insanity before it is too late.
Playpen of Graphics FREE graphics, FREE Jigsaw puzzles!
Zany's Playpen
ImageLarryR
Mar 26, 2011 10:56 AM CST
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA
I agree
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
As a gardener: When planning for a year, I plant corn. When planning for decades, I plant trees. When planning for life, I train and educate people.


Website: https://cottageinthemeadow.plantfans.com/
ImageZanymuse
Mar 26, 2011 1:30 PM CST
Name: Brenda Essig
Rio Dell, CA
We all need to imagine a world where no plant will sprout from seed because it was grown from a GMO or contaminated by a GMO through open pollination. . . Then wake up and start fighting this before it is too late!
Playpen of Graphics FREE graphics, FREE Jigsaw puzzles!
Zany's Playpen
mamajack
Mar 26, 2011 11:10 PM CST
Name: barb allison
Fate, Texas zone 8a
thanks for the update. please lmk any time you find out information about this. i have a friend i want to invite over. she is studying to be a chemist i think and is learning about monsanto now in school. she;s really busy and may not get on much but hopefully she can add something to our discussion when she does.

larry are you involved with the seed savers?
ImageLarryR
Mar 27, 2011 7:21 PM CST
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA
Please do encourage your friend to comment, if she'd like to, Barb.

My wife and I have a small seed bank of vegetable varieties brought from Germany in the mid-1800s. You can learn more about it here: http://cubits.org/gardenphotos/articles/view/730/. Scroll down to the Links section and click on the seed bank link.

I am somewhat connected with Decorah Seed Savers in that they now have seeds of all the vegetables we have in our seed bank. They have very sophisticated equipment to keep seeds viable, and my wife and I won't be on this earth forever, so this is a good way to keep the varieties from disappearing.
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
As a gardener: When planning for a year, I plant corn. When planning for decades, I plant trees. When planning for life, I train and educate people.


Website: https://cottageinthemeadow.plantfans.com/
mamajack
Mar 28, 2011 10:39 AM CST
Name: barb allison
Fate, Texas zone 8a
i sent my friend a link and hopefully she can come when she has time.

i wouldn't mind having some of your green bean seeds but it's a little late for me for this year. but would like to get some for next year. one thing i have noticed whether you buy canned or frozen .....green beans have no flavor. haven't bought fresh in a long time. i do have some contender plants going now. hoping they have some flavor.
cowboy
Apr 3, 2011 9:06 PM CST
Calgary, AB
I just finished reading, from the library, Hybrid: The History and Science of Plant Breeding by Noel Kingsbury, 2009. It's very informative.

http://www.amazon.com/Hybrid-History-Science-Plant-Breeding/...

A good book about the GM process is First Fruit: The Creation of the Flavr Savr Tomato and the Birth of Biotech Foods by Belinda Martineau, 2001. It was from the library as well.

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&tn=First...



mamajack
Apr 3, 2011 9:23 PM CST
Name: barb allison
Fate, Texas zone 8a
cowboy i hate being lazy but there is no book time for me in the near future.......

so will you just tell me exactly what it is they are doing when they genetically modify seeds? do they mix genes from say and asparagus and cucumber? do they make seeds/plants that can't be destroyed?

a&m made some kind of grass. my friend charlene had it in her yard. when the grass was planted it was a pasture for cows. but now as a yard it is indestructible. smothering and round-up wouldn't kill it. it just keeps sending runners up all over. this is the kind of thing that scares me. what if you filled up the world with plants like that? am i being paranoid with that thought? or do other people have similar fears?
GardeningNC
Apr 14, 2011 5:48 PM CST
okie, mama asked me to come over and talk about what little I have learned while in school so far at NCSU for Horticulture. First let me say that my knowledge is limited, but from my understanding the process by which GMO's are created is a specialty process by which they have all rights over, thus the exact process is not completely disclosed to the public - for obvious reasons as then everyone 'could' do it. However from my understanding the process uses a natural bacteria, agrobacterium (gosh I hope I am remembering all this correctly, when I get a chance ill use our library to do so more thorough research). This bacteria is known for introducing foreign DNA into organisms, so for all intents and purpose this does happen in nature usually causing diseases and such in plants. HOWEVER, the genes which they insert into something like round-up ready soybeans are NOT natural, as far as I know. This is where the worry can come in, none of my classes have even mentioned consequences when they have breezed over this topic but all the professors note it is new and so not much research into that area, I think that becomes the point! They dont really know the consequences. okie, here is where I have to put my two cents in... if they dont know the consequences they shouldnt approve it. They have seen where the big giant company has fined farmers who did not use the company seed but are located near farmers who do... the crops become cross pollinated - there is NO way to stop this that I have been made aware of, therefore I dont feel like this is even logical.
Back to GMO's - you ask if they really can create 'terminator' genes - meaning a plant wont reproduce - oh yes, very possible, even today we have sterile fruit through manipulation of chromosome numbers. It fascinates me that seedless watermelon are actually a mismatch of chromosome numbers of the parents, as they are seedless, you can not harvest your own seed for use next year and this is NOT a GMO.
I'm gonna do some more research on this subject as I think it is a great subject to push into people's faces... they need to understand the repercussions that we could face as well as the ones we dont even know are coming because of this. Just because we can do something, does not mean we should! I have begun to wonder about some correlations that I 'see' but I need facts to back those hypotheses before stating them, Ill be back as soon as I can... shoot if only I were working on a masters or phd, I could use this topic!
(please forgive any errors, I did not have a chance to proof)
mamajack
Apr 14, 2011 7:14 PM CST
Name: barb allison
Fate, Texas zone 8a
thanks for explaining that a little better NC. i still am full of questions. aren't they putting genes from carrots into rutabagas....things like that anyway? i am a simpleton. but seems to me if a rutabaga needed what a carrot had it would have had it to start with. and to me it seems that they are creating a carbaga or a rutatot. aren't they?
GardeningNC
Apr 22, 2011 6:57 AM CST
Heheheehe... well I dont think I have heard of them doing that - the genes they are using have specific purposes, so they wouldnt just use random gene from one plant in another for no reason. Now, some of the new intergeneric hybrids might be similar to what you are thinking... those are things like Verbena and Phlox - creating Velox, a 'new' species which would not exist in nature due to the natural process of creating seed or in some cases not creating. In this case the cross is done through pollination and then the developing embryo is removed and further allowed to develop off the mother plant - mother nature in this case would have the mother plant abort the embryo almost immediately upon fertilization, in other cases mother nature does not allow the egg and sperm of the plants to fuse in the pollination stage. So, this one I feel a bit better about, they are not manipulating the genes.
mamajack
Apr 24, 2011 9:07 AM CST
Name: barb allison
Fate, Texas zone 8a
what does "velox" and "rutatots" do to bees and other pollinators? are you studying about the bees as well NC?

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