Seed Order

31 Jan

No thanks: An anti-Monsanto crop circle made by farmers and volunteers in the Philippines. By Melvyn Calderon/Greenpeace HO/A.P. Images.

I mentioned a few posts ago that I would talk about my seed order from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They are a group of dedicated farmers who sell non-GM seeds (Genetically Modified).  They do extensive testing to make sure their seeds are not GM- because you can’t tell by looking at them.  And they specialize in seeds native to the Mid-Atlantic region.  (they do have other seeds, though. And they sell to folks outside the Mid-Atlantic region, like myself.)

So why these seeds? It started out as a quest for me to focus on growing foods that would grow well in my southeastern climate.  I mean, why not?  I would much rather grow food that has adapted and evolved to grow well in my backyard- especially since this is my first foray into gardening. I like to say, “Set yourself up for success.”

But then I started reading more about GM seeds.  I didn’t have a particular opinion about Genetically Modified food; I mean, I support stem cell research, so why shouldn’t I support food that has been engineered too? I thought that “Franken-food” was a little dramatic, until I read about them.

The Vanity Fair article describes the farming practice pretty neatly: “For centuries—millennia—farmers have saved seeds from season to season: they planted in the spring, harvested in the fall, then reclaimed and cleaned the seeds over the winter for re-planting the next spring. Monsanto has turned this ancient practice on its head.Monsanto developed G.M. seeds that would resist its own herbicide, Roundup, offering farmers a convenient way to spray fields with weed killer without affecting crops. Monsanto then patented the seeds.”

This means that farmers who buy Monsanto seeds are not permitted to save their seeds and replant next season. They must buy all new seeds from Monsanto. OK- so buyer beware, right?  If you buy Monsanto seeds, you know what you’re getting into.

Except seed pollination is not as need and pretty as our nice planted rows of crops. Mother Nature has developed a wonderfully robust system of pollinating seeds through birds, bugs, bees, wind, and other critters. So if you’re growing organic soybeans next to a GM crop, it’s very likely that a portion of your organic crop will be fertilized by the GM crop. You can now forget your organic certification.  PLUS, Monsanto will sue you if you replant your crop’s seeds the next season. And since organic seeds look exactly like GM seeds, the only way to know if your seeds are organic is if you test them in a laboratory. Small farmers everywhere find themselves in legal battles with this huge corporation; a real David and Goliath story where Goliath usually wins.

So ever the under-dog supporter, I wanted to make sure I didn’t just go buy seeds at the hardware store if I didn’t know they were organic.  These are called ‘open-pollinated’ seeds.  Combining my desire to support open pollination, small farmers, and regional suppliers, I settled on Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  But there are other suppliers, too.  I found these guys through a Google search using the text, “organic seeds”

2011 Catalog Cover

It’s nice to know that people are making an effort to preserve our bio-diversity, even in the face of such extreme pressures from big corporations. I feel great about my purchase, and I’ll let you know how they grow.

More information I found for research of this article:

Vanity Fair Article, Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear

Court orders destruction of GM sugar beets

Highly invasive GM alfalfa seeds threaten entire organic market

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