For those gardeners out there that prefer to grow your own fruits and vegetables, have you researched your seeds? Do you know what you’re actually planting? Unfortunately not all seeds are the same. In fact, some seeds may be hybrid or genetically modified. If you care what you’re eating then you have to be very careful about what you’re planting.
What exactly are seed developers doing to seeds and why?
Large seed developers like Syngenta, Dupont, Bayer, and Monsanto are genetically modifying and patenting their seed technologies. They claim increased food production for farmers. Monsanto specifically, is engineering a line of genetically modified seeds with Roundup Ready Technology that produces plants that inoculate against the popular herbicide Roundup. Conveniently, Roundup also happens to be a product of Monsanto. Monsanto isn’t just limiting seed modification to it’s herbicide resistant Roundup Ready Technology. They are also using a process called “trait stacking” which allows them to produce seeds that are not only resistant to Roundup, but also contain insect control for pests above the ground as well as below the ground. It’s these “advantages” that Monsanto claims will help farmers produce higher yielding crops.
What kind of health risk do genetically modified seeds pose?
In the United States, the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition only reviews summaries of food safety data provided by the developers of the engineered foods. The FDA does not require any specific testing in order to determine that genetically modified food is safe. After reviewing food safety data, the FDA does not approve the safety of the genetically modified food. They only acknowledge that the developer of the food has determined it is safe. What could ever go wrong with self certification like that? Published reports state that no adverse health effects attributed to genetically modified food have been documented in the human population, but without epidemiological studies, it is highly unlikely that any harm that might occur will be detected and attributed to genetically modified food.
Traditionally, farmers saved their seeds. Year after year, they would use saved seeds to replant their crops. Now that seeds are genetically modified, seed developers have protected the seeds under patents. GMO seeds are now subject to licensing by their developers in written contracts. This prevents farmers from practicing the tradition of saving seeds for replanting purposes. Because farmers cannot save and replant seeds, they are forced to purchase new seeds for each crop. With seed prices rising at extortionate rates, farmers are beginning to find that the “benefits” are just not worth the extra cost.
Which seeds should I buy and how can I tell if they’ve been genetically modified?
The FDA does not require special labeling of genetically modified food unless there is a “material difference” in the final product. To combat this, responsible product suppliers will often identify themselves by adding their own “Non-GMO” label. When buying seeds, make sure to look for the “Non-GMO” label or purchase Heirloom seeds. Heirloom seeds are sometimes also known as “heritage” seeds. Be sure to also stay away from hybrid seeds. If you don’t see a “Non-GMO” label, then make sure that they are labeled as certified organic or 100% organic
If you’re looking for more information about starting a garden, check out or other post on spring planting.
What type of seeds do you use in your garden? Do you have a favorite supplier? Let us know in the comments!