Tag Archives: Heirloom Seeds

Monsanto in Your Garden: Why You Need to Buy Organic Seeds

When most people think of Monsanto, they picture huge Midwest farms growing Roundup Ready GMO corn and soy.  But did you know that Monsanto and other agrochemical multinationals are in the home garden vegetable seed business as well?

The commercial seed industry has undergone vast consolidation in the last few decades, with several agro giants buying up many seed companies around the world.  The majority of these companies target the commercial agriculture industry, but companies such as Monsanto and Swiss-based Syngenta produce a range of seeds for the home vegetable gardener as well.

Aside from the anti-trust issues raised from having a few large corporations control the world’s seed supply, there are other concerns as well. The recent consolidation frenzy has resulted in a drastic decrease in the variety of seeds. Insects and disease tend to attack monocultures, so the strength of any ecosystem is the level of its plant diversity. Monocultures, where the same type of crops grow on large plots of land year in and year out, also lead to an increase in pesticide usage.  This is convenient for the giant seed companies, since they’re in the pesticide and herbicide business as well.

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Free GMO Movie Showing May 22

Don’t forget: May 22 is our Free Movie Showing! GMO’s: Panacea or Poison (see poster below).

First 100 participants receive a package of heritage/heirloom pea and bean seeds to plant. Plus we have a draw to win a small garden of heirloom and ancients vegetable plants!

The movie is an hour long, with a guest speaker panel at the end to answer any of your questions. So come on the 22nd and get informed about GMO foods, crops and trees. Why you should care and what you can do.

Farm income drops to staggering lows

From the Western Producer paper, May 6 2010

Farm income predictions grim

Projections 91 percent below 2009

The 2010 farm income projections are devastating.
Agriculture Canada released them with little fanfare in late April, which is later than normal.
A sector that will produce $41.6 billion in farmgate receipts this year will return $291.5 million to farmers in realized net income after depreciation. It is a 91 percent reduction from 2009 levels.
Several provinces will be in deficit, including Ontario and Alberta.
The hog and cattle sectors will be hit particularly hard, according to the numbers prepared by and agreed to by federal and provincial officials.
The forecast projects a 12 percent increase in program payments to $3.76 billion despite an Agriculture Canada longer-term projection of a sharp decline in government support over the next three years.
National and provincial leaders affiliated with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture called the numbers a clear signal that federal programs are not working.
“The government’s own forecasts show deep losses for many commodities and highlight that the business risk management programs currently in place were not designed to function with today’s unique set of economic circumstances,” CFA president Laurent Pellerin said in a statement.

How To Create A GMO Event

This is a post for those interested in hosting an event to bring awareness to GMO issues. It follows our May 22 event: Plant Your GE Free Garden and free movie showing.

Real Event as a Model: Step by Step Guidance

by April Reeves:

I’m going to write about a real event I’m organizing. May 22 is the date. Ralph Fisher Auditorium is the venue: holds 300+ people and I intend to fill it. Here’s how:

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Organic practices can feed the world

Be not troubled by Robert Paarlberg’s scaremongering. Organic practices can feed the world — better, in fact, than wasteful industrial farming.

In May 2004, Catherine Badgley, an evolutionary biology professor at the University of Michigan, took her students on a research trip to an organic farm near their campus. Standing on the acre-and-a-half farm, Badgley asked the farmer, Rob MacKercher, how much food he produces annually. “Twenty-seven tons,” he said. Badgley did the quick math: That’s enough to provide 150 families one pound of produce every single day of the year.

“If he can grow that quantity on this tiny parcel,” Badgley wondered, “why can’t organic agriculture feed the world?” That question was the genesis of a multi-year, multidisciplinary study to explore whether we could, indeed, feed the world with organic, sustainable methods of farming. The results? A resounding yes.

Unfortunately, you don’t hear about this study, or others with similar findings, in “Attention Whole Foods Shoppers,” Robert Paarlberg’s defense of industrial agriculture in the new issue of Foreign Policy. Instead, organic agriculture, according to Paarlberg, is an “elite preoccupation,” a “trendy cause” for “purist circles.” Sure, sidling up to a Whole Foods in your Lexus SUV and spending $24.99 on artisan fromage may be the trappings of a privileged foodie, but there’s an SUV-sized difference between obsessing about the texture of your goat cheese and arguing for a more sustainable food system. Despite Paarlberg’s pronouncements, Badgley’s research, along with much more evidence, helps us see that what’s best for the planet and for people — especially small-scale farmers who are the hungriest among us — is a food system based on agroecological practices. What’s more, Paarlberg’s impressive-sounding statistics veil the true human and ecological cost we are paying with industrial agriculture.

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How I grow food every year – Nutrigenomics

I ran across this article that talked about a new revolutionary way to eat that prevents disease and is tailored specifically for you. It’s called Nutrigenomics, and begins with garden grown vegetables that you ‘encode’. This is NOT a GMO project.

I have been doing this for years, so to hear it’s “new” was rather humorous. Here’s how it works:

You take the seeds you want to plant and eat, and place them under your tongue for at least 9 minutes. This allows the plant to “assume” your particular needs for your body. Plants can heal us if we let them. I use heritage and heirloom seeds only, from sources I trust (they are on this site). I then take water that I have washed my hands and feet with, and water those new seeds with it. Your hands and feet shed toxins and garbage from your system daily. The plants take this new data and create the foods you need to fix the problems in your own body.

This year we have added friends seeds to our personal garden. It will be interesting to see how their foods work for them.

Here is the article on Nutrigenomics.

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.

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Bitter fight developing over sugar beets

Mitchell Hartman reports: Virtually the entire sugar beet crop in the United States is genetically engineered to protect it from herbicides. Now, a lawsuit claiming the biotech beets pose a risk to other varieties could threaten sugar production (link to article 1, 2).

Kai Ryssdal: The most heavily-traded futures contract in New York today was not oil. It wasn’t gold. You’ll probably never guess, so I’ll just go ahead and give you the answer: Sugar was the hot commodity today as traders backed it down off 28-year highs. Rumors of a big purchase by the Indian government helped drive that.

Here in this country more than half our sugar comes from beets. From a beet crop that is almost entirely genetically modified. Organic farmers and food-safety advocates are suing to keep that crop out of the ground this coming spring. From the Marketplace Entrepreneurship Desk at Oregon Public Broadcasting, Mitchell Hartman reports.


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How Bad Is Monsanto?

12/17/2009 10:53:23 AM

Recently I spent several evenings reading The Year of the Flood, the newest novel by award-winning Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. In this visionary fiction story of societal and environmental  breakdown caused by gene splicing free-for-alls run by the Corporations, the world is populated by strange animals including wild pigs with superior intelligence, and sheep with human hair. Don’t ask where the meat in the burgers comes from, and watch your back when you’re outside a Corporate compound. An extremist cult, God’s Gardeners, welcomes outcasts as long as they are willing to go along with the religion that goes with growing your own food. It’s a cool religion that honors folks like Saint Euell (Gibbons) for his wisdom of useful wild plants.

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Canadian list of Heirloom, Heritage and Rare Vegetable Varieties

green peppers are better grown organically The following seed companies and nurseries sell heirloom and rare or endangered varieties of vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs. In some catalogues, the heirloom varieties are noted as such, but in others they are not, so you have to know what you are looking for.

Canada:

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How to grow vegetables in BC

Garlic can be grown successfully in BCThis is a short list of great articles on how to grow just about any vegetable. The information is complements of each farm and grower. Please take time to look at their websites and plan to buy local Non-GE/GMO seeds for 2010.

West Coast Seeds: large inventory and great explanations on vegetables and herbs.

Two Wings Farm Planting instructions for the organic seeds they sell.

Salt Spring Sees This site is just a goldmine for information on growing and everything else!

Full Circle Seeds Instructions for the seeds they sell.

Seed sellers in BC that do not sell GE/GMO seeds.

A foggy day for The Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing ProgramGE Free Gardening

no GE (genetically engineered), no GMO (genetically modified) seeds

At GE Free BC, we want safe, healthy food that is not genetically engineered. Inserting foreign genes into a food is an imprecise process that damages the DNA, with unpredictable results. It affects the nutritional content, can cause allergies, and antibiotic genes can survive in the human digestive system. Containment of GE crops from other crops in the field is impossible. Pollen from GE plants can cross with non-GE cultivated & wild plants. You can get more info from the GE Free BC newsletter, and get involved, by emailing: gefreebc@yahoo.ca

Over 100 seed companies have signed the Safe Seed Pledge that they will not buy or sell genetically engineered seeds.

The Safe Seed Pledge

“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants.

The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities.”

Seed sellers in B.C. who have signed the Safe Seed Pledge:
Aurora Farm Seeds of Victoria
Butchart Gardens Stellar Seeds
Crafty Gardener Sunshine Farm
Fraser’s Thimble Farms Terra Viva Organics
Grass Root Seeds West Coast Seeds
Salt Spring Seeds
Others – and some outside B.C.- who sell GE-free seeds:
Van Dusen Seed Collectors Richter’s Herbs
Planting Seeds Project Territorial Seeds
Thompson and Morgan Twining Vine

Interesting Seeds to Plant in 2007:

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