Category Archives: Non-GE foods

Video on Urban Food Growing in Cuba

Young people in Havanna Cuba are growing urban organic gardens within their city. It’s a good model to use for your own backyard ideas and community gardens.

Cuba Urban Gardens

A seed compromise worth thinking about

I just came across this company, eMerge, who produces patented hybrid non-GMO seeds for corn and soybeans.

They state that these seeds will produce high yields and are healthier than GM. That’s good: that’s believable.

They ask that you buy their seeds each year instead of keeping them. While I still like the idea of keeping and saving seeds each year, could this be a reasonable compromise?

Why can’t Monsanto do this? Is it so hard to just drop the DNA altered foods and come to some agreement to at least provide farmers and consumers with a better alternative?

Keep moving ahead eMerge. You will likely be one of the last companies standing, along with the rest of us who save seeds each year. We have varieties Monsanto will never find or patent.

People are waking  up.

Traditional seed supply found to have GM DNA

If you read nothing else read this – April

What is new about the Gone to Seed report?

Gone to Seed reports, for the first time, that the traditional seed supply for important food crops is contaminated with DNA from genetically engineered crops. UCS tested six traditional varieties each from three crops—corn, soybeans, and canola—and found that most of them carry pieces of DNA from genetically engineered varieties.

Why is contamination of the traditional seed supply important?

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Bt crop: Insect-resistant crop variety engineered to produce an insect toxin originally found in a soil bacterium. YieldGard, NaturGard, KnockOut, and StarLink are trade names of some Bt-corn varieties.

DNA: Deoxyribonucleic acid, the linear macromolecule that makes up the genetic material of most organisms. DNA usually exists as a double-stranded helix.

Gene: Functional unit of hereditary material usually carried on chromosomes and passed from parent to offspring. A gene codes for proteins (the molecules that are responsible, alone or in combination, for traits exhibited by plants such as seed color and shape, height, and insect resistance).

Genetic engineering: Molecular-level techniques capable of combining genes and regulatory sequences and transferring them into an organism. These techniques, which may be used to transfer genes between unrelated organisms or to remove and rearrange genes within a species, are also called  transgenic, gene splicing, and genetic modification techniques.

Herbicide-resistant variety: Plant variety resistant to the otherwise toxic effects of herbicides.

Pollen: Dust-like material, produced by the male parts of flowers, which contains male sex cells.

Primer set: Short pieces of DNA added to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) mixtures to “find” the pieces of target DNA that will be copied. Primer sets are synthesized to match sequences at the beginning and end of the target DNA, thereby defining the exact segment to be subsequently duplicated by a DNA-copying enzyme.

Traditional seeds represent the portion of the seed supply that is presumed not to be genetically engineered. Such seeds are important to conventional farmers exporting crops to countries that reject  genetic engineering; to organic farmers who are barred from using genetically engineered seeds; and to society as a whole as an insurance policy against the possibility that something might go awry with genetic engineering.

How did the contamination occur?

UCS is not sure. We do know that there are two major routes by which the DNA we detected could move into seed supplies: physical mixing  of seeds or seed parts, and pollen, which is carried by wind or insects to the female parts of plants and gives rise to new seeds. But we do not know whether seed mixing or pollen flow or both account for the engineered genetic material we found in traditional varieties in our study.

What kinds of genetically engineered elements are contaminating traditional varieties of seeds?

Again, we do not know. We could only test for a few genes—those that are used in popular herbicide- resistant and Bt varieties of genetically engineered crops—and we did detect some of those genes. But there are many other genes that could potentially contaminate traditional seeds that we could not test for. Gone to Seed lists hundreds of genes and traits that have been moved into varieties of soybeans, corn, and canola, such as genes added to corn to produce drugs for people and animals and to alter the crop’s starch, oil, and protein makeup.

If corn, soybeans, and canola are safe to eat, why would anyone be concerned about the low levels of seed contamination that UCS found?

Well, first, we’re not sure what the levels of contamination across
the seed supply really are, although the limited data in our study suggest that it is low. One reason we advocate a large follow-up study is to obtain better estimates of the levels of contamination.

Continue reading

Great video: Biodynamic Farming

Frog Hill Farm in Port Townsend, Washington: The farm’s diverse acres include woodlands, an herb and flower garden, wetlands, pastures for goats, ducks and chickens as well as neat rows of vegetables. Sebastian Aguilar, who runs the farm with his family, has taken his organic certification to the next level by employing biodynamic farming practices.

An often misunderstood technique due to its roots in Rudolph Steiner’s esoteric spiritual philosophy, biodynamic agriculture treats farms as unified organisms and emphasizes the relationship of soil, plants and animals. Biodynamic farms try to eliminate inputs (such as fertilizers) and instead create a closed-loop system of soil maintenance using cover crops, manure and herbal composts.

Video of Frog Hill’s Biodynamic Farming

Greenpeace puts out list of Non-GMO food companies

If you are looking for a list of Non-GMO/GE food companies, and a list of those companies that do use GM, Greenpeace has compiled a list you can print out and take to the grocery store. Thanks Greenpeace.

I have some additions to the good companies that don’t use GM. You can find them under the “Foods” page on this blog. I will be adding to them as I find them. I source them out by calling and speaking with their researchers and owners. I only post companies that are 100% Non-GE.

Greenpeace: Shopper’s Guide to Avoid Genetically Engineered Foods

You have a right to know.

GMO seed watch: You won’t know you’re planting GM seeds

Here is a GMO  variety heads up, courtesy of Maureen Bostock (a BC expat now based in  Ontario)

It seems Seedway Company out of Pennsylvania is selling BT Sweet Corn in  the U.S. & southwestern Ontario.

The  varieties are marked by the “Attribute” label and are produced by  Syngenta.  BC 0801, WH 0812, BC 0832, BC 0808, BC 0805, BSS 0977 and  BSS 0982 are some of the sweet corn variety names.

Maureen mentioned  that as far as she knows growers are required to sign a user’s agreement for this sweet corn – so most organic producers can easily avoid purchasing  these varieties; but GE varieties of crookneck summer squash are also  listed, and apparently growers are not required to sign a user’s agreement  for them.

Rochelle Eisen
BC’s Organic Extension  Agent
250 499.2413 (phone)
250.502.0323  (cell)
ONLINE  archives of COABC’s Fall Webinar Series <http://www.certifiedorganic.bc.ca/infonews/events.php>  are available
http://www.certifiedorganic.bc.ca/infonews/events.php#seminar

Grain companies exploit flax situation to tighten vise on farmer seed saving

National Farmers Union Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE
RELEASE
JANUARY 18, 2010

GRAIN COMPANIES EXPLOIT FLAX SITUATION TO
TIGHTEN VISE ON FARMER SEED SAVING

SASKATOON, SK: Grain company Viterra wants to force all farmers wishing
to grow flax in 2010 to purchase certified seed.  A Viterra spokesman
delivered that message in a presentation on January 11 at the Crop
Production Show in Saskatoon.

Viterra and others are pushing the requirement for certified seed as a
purported solution to the problem of the Triffid contamination in flax
shipments to Europe.  Triffid is a genetically modified variety not
approved in Europe.  But the NFU believes that the proposed certified
seed cure is the wrong one, and that there will be long-lasting and
negative side effects.
Continue reading