It sounds like hype, but it isn’t. Those yelling that the sky is falling (when it comes to seeds) are not being hysterical. We are facing a biodiversity crisis.
After reading Michael Specter’s New Yorker piece so obviously pro-GMO and pro-Biotech, the piece that misrepresented, misled and missed the point entirely about Dr. Vandana Shiva’s mission, I was pleased to find a detailed response by Dr. Shiva herself about her education, travels, and the facts behind her stories. She has had boots on the ground in this fight against Biotech food supply takeover for a long time. She is Indian and has personally been involved in fighting the seed monopoly perpetrated by Monsanto et al in her country. She has seen the push by Biotech companies to gain seed monopolies in Africa, Central America and South America. The countries that reject GMOs face expensive, drawn-out lawsuits filed by Biotech companies. Yes, Monsanto sues entire nations.
Monsanto et al are patenting nonGMO seeds in the U.S. and Europe. They are gaining control of the seeds that grow our food which in turn positions them to control the food supply. This is dangerous and foolish. Google “USAID” and follow the money trail back to Biotech. The U.S. government is complicit in the spread of GMOs around the world, acting as Biotech ambassadors every step of the way.
Here is a good site that addresses the issues with seeds: Seed Freedom.
And so we sit here looking at a tiny seed, or a big seed, depending on what variety of crop you want to grow. All of this ruckus is about a seed.
And yet, this seed represents life to humans. This seed represents the potential to feed the world. Who should be in control of this seed?
Farmers? The U.S. government? Monsanto? Dupont? Syngenta? Dow?
Food supply. Who do we want to control it? Think about this a bit.This leads me to my tiny plots of soil where I grow humble groups of a handful of plants each growing season. Some of the crops I simply harvest, pull up the plants when they are done, and am finished for the season. So simple, so clean. Other crops I allow to sprawl all over my garden spaces. These plants fall over, spill out, and send up flower buds that if left alone eventually turn into seed that can in turn be planted next year, or saved for the future. Only certain kinds of seeds will produce that same kind of plant next growing season: open pollinated. Many of these open-pollinated seeds are heirlooms. All heirlooms are open-pollinated.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying and planting hybrid seeds. They don’t harm the environment. But you can’t save hybrid seeds and have a true crop next season if you plant those seeds. Hybrids are not genetically modified. A hybrid vegetable seed might be patented and owned by a Biotech company that then receives a portion of the purchase price should you buy that seed. Mother Earth News has a great article on the difference between Hybrids and GMOs.
Open-pollinated varieties of seeds are what people are referring to when they talk about seed saving. In my garden at this time, I have broccoli, spinach, lettuce, squash, cucumber, snow pea, green bean and corn plants that are earmarked for seed saving. This requires a different kind of gardening. My next post will explain a bit about seed saving and what it entails. It does require a change in attitude and surrender of some control over the aesthetics of the garden space.
I recommend that every vegetable garden give it a try with at least one variety this year or next. Plant a little extra of an open-pollinated variety to save for yourself, to share, and to preserve biodiversity.