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.
Posted in American Politics & Food, Biotech Companies, Canadian Politics & Food, Food Security, Monsanto, Organic Growers & Seeds, World GE Politics
Tagged Canadian Food Politics, Food Security, Heirloom Seeds, Heritage Seeds, Monsanto, Organic Seed, Seed Saving, Sustainability, Take Action!
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:
Posted in American Politics & Food, Canadian Politics & Food, Food Security, Take Action!, World Food Politics
Tagged GE Free BC, GE Free Garden, GMO, GMO Event, Grow Vegetables, Heirloom Seeds, Heritage Seeds, Organic Seed, Small Farmer, Sustainability, Take Action!
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.
Posted in American Politics & Food, Biotech Companies, Canadian Politics & Food, Food Security, Monsanto, World Food Politics
Tagged Ban GM crops, Canadian Food Politics, Food Security, Grow Vegetables, Heirloom Seeds, Heritage Seeds, India, Non-GMO Foods, Organic farmers, Organic Seed, Small Farmer, Sustainability, Take Action!, World Hunger
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.
Posted in Food Security, Non-GE foods, Organic Growers & Seeds, Take Action!
Tagged April Reeves, Grow Vegetables, Heirloom Seeds, Heritage Seeds, Non-GMO Foods, Organic Seed, Small Farmer, Sustainability, Take Action!
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.
Posted in American Politics & Food, Biotech Companies, Canadian Politics & Food, Food Security, Non-GE foods, Take Action!, World GE Politics
Tagged Ban GM crops, Biotech Companies, Canadian Food Politics, DNA, Food Security, GE Foods, GMO, Gone To Seed Report, Heirloom Seeds, Heritage Seeds, Non-GMO Foods, Organic Seed, Sustainability, Traditional seed contamination, Traditional seeds, UCS
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.
– 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
– 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
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
Posted in American Politics & Food, Biotech Companies, Canadian Politics & Food, Food Security, Monsanto, World GE Politics
Tagged Ban GM crops, Biotech Companies, Canadian Food Politics, CBAN, Certified Organics, Food Secure, GE Foods, GM Alfalfa, GMO, Lucy Sharratt, Non-GMO Foods, Organic Seed, Organics, Small Farmer, Sustainability
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
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.
BC’s Organic Extension Agent
250 499.2413 (phone)
ONLINE archives of COABC’s Fall Webinar Series <http://www.certifiedorganic.bc.ca/infonews/events.php> are available
Posted in Food Security, GE Corn, Non-GE foods, Organic Growers & Seeds
Tagged Atribute Label, Ban GM crops, BT Sweet Corn, Canadian Food Politics, Food Secure, Food Security, GE Foods, GMO, Organic Seed, Seedway, Syngenta
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.
Posted in American Politics & Food, Biotech Companies, Monsanto
Tagged Ban GM crops, Biotech Companies, Grow Vegetables, Heirloom Seeds, Heritage Seeds, Organic Seed, Roundup Ready, Small Farmer, Sugar beet
By Devinder Sharma
18 December, 2009
When the going gets tough, the loser’s panic. And the desperation grows.
Well, this is the story of the duo — Dr Ron Herring (from Cornell) and Dr Shantu Shantaram — doing the rounds across the country on behalf of the GM industry. After the New Delhi panel discussion organised by the Institute of Economic Growth on Dec 3, the duo went to Ahmedabad and from there to Thiruvanthapuram in Kerala.
You have probably read about the New Delhi meet, and the FAQs that come up again and again, on this blog earlier. Just in case you missed it, here is the link: http://devinder-sharma.blogspot.com/
My colleague Sreedevi Lakshmi Kutty was in Thiruvanthapuram early this week and did manage to attend for sometime the two-day conference where both Ron Herring and Shantu Shantaram were present. She sends me this report.
I was in Kerala on a vacation last week and during that time came across this workshop on “Modern biotechnology in Indian Agriculture” (on Dec 13-14). This was organised under the banner of AICBA Delhi and FBAE Bangalore. This was a pro-GM industry conference, where Monsanto also made a presentation.
Posted in Biotech Companies, Food Security, Monsanto, Organic Growers & Seeds, World GE Politics
Tagged Ban GM crops, Biotech Companies, Food Secure, GE Foods, GMO, Grow Vegetables, India, Monsanto, Organic Seed, Small Farmer, World Hunger
By Stephen Samaniego
Fred Fleming’s family has been farming in Lincoln County Washington for over a hundred years. President Grover Cleveland signed the deed to his great grandfather back in 1888. Since then the farm has been passed on from generation to generation. To say farming is in his blood would be an understatement.
See video on Fred’s farm and listen to his words of wisdom to others to do the same!
Fleming jokes about how he used to be addicted to the traditional farming methods passed on to him by his father. “I’m a recovering conventional farmer. I’m ten years into my program. My name is Fred.”
Fleming says this with a coy smile, but for years he worried about the sustainability of conventional farming. Traditionally, a wheat farmer sells his product on the commodities market where prices can be so volatile a farmer can be bankrupt before he knows what happened to him.
Fleming decided it was time for him to start selling wheat on his own terms. Fleming and his long-time friend and fellow farmer Karl Kupers decided to bypass the commodity market and take their product directly to the customer.
“We actually develop a relationship with our customer,” says Fleming.
Posted in American Politics & Food, Food Security, Organic Growers & Seeds
Tagged Ban GM crops, Consumer Direct, Food Security, GE Foods, GMO, Grow Vegetables, Heritage Seeds, Monsanto, Network Farming, Organic Seed, Small Farmer
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.
Posted in Biotech Companies, Food Security, Monsanto, World Food Politics, World GE Politics
Tagged Biotech Companies, Food Security, GE Foods, gene splicing, GMO, Grow Vegetables, Heirloom Seeds, Heritage Seeds, Margaret Atwood, novel, Organic Seed, Small Farmer, Syngenta, The Year of the Flood
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.