It’s that exciting, hopeful time of year again: All the seed catalogs have arrived and it’s time to plan your garden and buy seeds.
But what most gardeners don’t know is that Monsanto has been devouring the seed market faster than a rabbit can eat your lettuce!
In 2005, Monsanto grabbed 40% of the U.S. seed market and 20% of the global seed market when it bought out Seminis, making them the largest seed company in the world—supplying the genetics for 55% of the lettuce on U.S. supermarket shelves, 75% of the tomatoes, and 85% of the peppers, with strong holdings in beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and peas!
And Monsanto (closely followed by Dow and Syngenta) have been buying up every seed company they can ever since. They even own the trademark for many of the names of popular non-GMO seeds varieties!
So, planting a GMO-free garden is not so simple as buying certified organic or heirloom seed anymore, now that Monsanto owns so many seed companies. For example, Seminis’ non-GMO seeds are carried by many popular garden catalogs, including Burpee, Park Seed, Territorial Seeds, and Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
This means that a gardener or homesteader could unknowingly be giving money to Monsanto, even when purchasing regular, non-GMO seeds, if the seeds in the catalog were supplied from Seminis or one of Monsanto’s other acquisitions.
Monsanto’s Dirty Little Secret
Aside from trying to dominate the global seed market and make everyone in the world their
hostage customer, one of the main reasons that Monsanto and other biotech companies have bought up so many seed companies is to use the germplasm (DNA) of those non-GMO varieties in their future GMO products.
The dirty little secret of the GMO industry is that most of the traits that they brag about trying to create (like drought tolerance, greater nutrition, etc.) are actually the product of traditional breeding.
In essence, by buying up all the seed companies, they can literally steal the work done by thousands of gardeners and farmers over generations to produce quality seeds with beneficial growing traits. Then they can slip a “Round-Up Ready” or other proprietary gene into it and call it their “own”, and sell it with patent restrictions.
This is not a company any gardener would want to support.
Where to Buy Non GMO Seeds
So, how can you make sure that none of the seeds you buy this year are not supporting Monsanto or one of the companies owned by them—even when buying non-GMO seeds? Here are five ways to keep Monsanto out of your garden:
1. Avoid buying anything from companies that are affiliated with Monsanto or Seminis. (Here’s a list of what to avoid.)
2. Avoid buying seed or seedlings varieties that are trademarked by Seminis or Monsanto, especially those found at big box garden centers. This includes popular tomato varieties such as ‘Celebrity,’ ‘Early Girl,’ and ‘Better Boy,’ as well as a host of other common home garden varieties, like ‘Cheddar’ cauliflower and ‘Marketmore 76’ cucumbers. These are not GMO varieties, but their purchase does line the pockets of Monsanto. (Here’s a list.)
3. Buy seeds or seedlings only from companies that Monsanto hasn’t bought out and that aren’t affiliated with Seminis. (Here’s a list.)
4. Ask seed companies if they have taken the Safe Seed Pledge and tested their stock for GMOs. (Here’s a list.)
5. Buy, plant, and save seeds from heirloom varieties. Seed Savers Exchange, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and Clear Creek Heirloom Seeds all specialize in heirlooms, and are not owned by Monsanto or Seminis. Seed Savers Exchange will gladly tell you how to collect and store seeds.
Please spread the word among other gardeners you know to be very cautious when buying seeds and seedlings for their gardens this year. If you are in doubt, call your seed company and ask if they carry seeds from Seminis.
Together, we can build momentum for a more sustainable world, one garden at a time!