Large companies such as Monsanto and Biotech would love for everyone to believe that genetically modified organisms or GMOs have been around forever. These companies state that GMOs are the equivalent to cross-pollinated or cross bred seed techniques that have been used by farmers and master gardeners for hundreds of years.
However, there is a big difference between cross-pollinating plants and GMOs. If you plan to purchase any type of seed it is important to know the difference between heirloom seeds, organic seeds, and GMO seeds.
Life Of A Seed
Seeds are live organisms and just like humans they will adapt to the environment that they are grown in. Seeds are influenced by many things including climate and cultural factors such as if they were raised on a diet of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and other petro and chemical based fertilizers. Music being played while seeds are germinated can also affect how they adapt.
That’s right, playing music does affect the way plants grow. One study conducted in Suwon, South Korea by Mi-Jeong Jeong, at the National Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology, found that classical music helps plants grow more than hard rock such as AC-DC.
During the study gene expression in rice plants was studied. It was found that at specific frequencies, between 125 to 250 Hz, rbcS and Ald became more active. Sound waves at 50 Hz made them not as active. The chemical changes led to changes in the plant’s genes and this was all induced by music.
This simply shows that plants do respond to their environment. There may be ten seed companies that advertise the same seed, these seeds really are not the same. For this reason, it is important to ask a few important questions before you transplant a type of seed to your farm or garden.
These questions include:
- What is the seed already adapted to?
- What is the original source for the seeds that were used to grow their crops?
- Is the seed being purchased from a reseller or a person that is not a plant breeder?
When searching for seeds to use, organic seeds are often the best choice.
Open Pollinated Organic Seeds
If possible, purchasing open pollinated organic seeds is recommended. Seed sourcing is extremely important for open pollinated plants. If you are going to save the seeds for a bit before planting make sure that you purchase your seeds from an ethical dealer. The seed dealer should use breeding through non-GMO methods.
If pollen is not shared by different varieties of the same plant species, an open pollinated seed will be true to type and will produce another generation of plants that are like the parental plant. Open pollination seeds require strict management of each years crop. Weaklings need to be weeded out and plants that show improved disease resistance and vigor should be chosen. While this takes diligence, in the long term it is worth it if you can find these types of seeds.
Avoid Plants That Are Highly Inbred
While GMO plants are the worst, there are some hybrid plants that are created using 2 genetically distinct highly inbred parents that can provide plants and seeds that are somewhat funky and have a low germination rate. These plants are also more prone to disease and typically will not grow true to their type.
Additionally, the next generation of these plants that are grown from inbred seeds will typically have some surprising traits, some that are not desirable. This is the reason that many hybrid seed growers will need to buy seeds again each season.
Hybrid seeds became popular during the 1950s because of their uniformity. However, they led to large fields of monocultures that were only commercially viable. This was not a boon to sustainability. Open pollination seeds have a ton of diversity and variability because seeds are produced by pollen that flows freely between genetically similar parental plants. This is just one more reason that organic farmers are angered by GMOs. GMOs do not allow you to control open pollination and they also mess with nature when it comes to giving us plants that are healthy, and naturally resistant to disease.
Many people think that when they are buying heirloom seeds they are purchasing organic seeds that are older versions of plants. Unfortunately, many heirloom seeds today are sold without a quality guarantee.
For example, many people do not know that heirloom seeds are open pollinated. A definition of heirloom seeds states that these seeds are at least 50 or 100 years old and have survived outside of the commercial seed market for this time by being passed down within a single family or community.
While this is a great heritage that can be shared, it is important to note that there are some heirloom seeds that are better than others. Heirloom seeds are extremely important for agricultural success. These seeds have genetic diversity. However, if not properly taken care of heirloom strains can become a simple glimmer of the genetic origin.
Many master gardeners have nonetheless passed down their generational knowledge to help preserve and revive heirloom varieties.
When it comes to choosing organic seeds, the most important thing to remember is that you should trust your seller. Make sure that you are asking questions about all of the types of organic seeds that they have available. Finding a good quality organic seed is becoming a bit more difficult as many people simply purchase the commercial seeds that they can find at any store.
If you have found a good source for organic seeds, make sure that you share the seller with your friends and your family. Once people start gardening more and more with these organic seeds, there can really be an underground resistance to the influence of the biotech industry.