Tag Archives: Organic Seed

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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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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Stop GE Alfalfa! Take Action before February 16!

Protect Organic Food! Support Organic Farmers!

The U.S. will approve Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa
unless we stop them. Organic food and farming in the U.S. and Canada
is under immediate threat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its draft
Environmental Impact Statement on GE alfalfa and is accepting comments
until end of day Feb 16, 2010.

They say:
–   Contamination of organic food from GE alfalfa will happen but
it doesn’t really matter.

–   Consumers don’t care if organic food is contaminated with GE
alfalfa.

–   GE alfalfa will result in fewer small farmers and fewer
organic farmers but that’s okay.

Tell the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) you DO care about
organic food and organic farmers!

Organic farming bans the use of genetically engineered organisms. Stop
Monsanto from destroying organic farming in the U.S. and Canada!

1. A sample letter – for Canadian organic consumers to send – is
below. You can submit your letter at (copy and paste the whole URL) :www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#submitComment
?R=0900006480a6b7a1

2. We also invite all organizations, producer associations, companies
and community groups to endorse the No to GE Alfalfa campaign by
signing on the statement opposing GE alfalfa in Canada. Go here to
sign on http://www.cban.ca/content/view/full/631

For more information, action and background: http://www.cban.ca/alfalfa

Sample Letter:
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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