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How to Keep Monsanto Out of Your Garden

How to Keep Monsanto Out of Your Garden

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.

Related: (See The Difference Between Hybrids Seeds and GMOs)

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 ExchangeBaker 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!



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DISCLAIMER: The content on Small Footprint Family is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. I am not a medical professional and the information contained on this blog should not be used to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease or health illness. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented here. Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods or supplements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.



68 Comments

  1. Has anyone tried http://www.SeedsNow.com for NON-GMO seeds? All their seeds are heirloom/non-hybrid too which is cool. Also, what’s the easiest vegetable to grow? Are tomatoes pretty easy to grow? I’d really like to get into micro-greens and sprouts too. I love this stuff. Thank you for a great article.

  2. Good News! Kitazawa Seed Co. (kitazawaseed.com) is a Safe Seed Pledge company and the oldest Asian seed company in the Americas. They have shiso (a/k/a oba, in 4+ varieties) and goba (burdock root [and they also have ha gobo]). I am not in any way affiliated with this company – I am simply sharing because I know how long and hard I had to research to find an ethical company selling the hard-to-find stuff (even extending to rice and sesame, e.g.]. When you click on an item it will tell you the transliterated name(s) in various countries/areas (in case you know it by some other common name, plus they give you the taxonomic name); then, click on the photo of the item and you will be taken to a page providing USEFUL details on the plant, how to use/prepare/eat it, as well as how to cultivate it (FAR more useful data than what I’m seeing on most seed sites). They even have recipes on the site for those unfamiliar with how to incorporate the item into a menu. Caveat: perilla is NOT necessarily shiso – just look at the leaves in photos on sites selling perilla (yet erroneously referring to it as a/k/a shiso) and you will immediately recognize the difference; you will also definitely taste the difference because most perillas being sold as “shiso” lack the shiso flavor. Happy eating! [Dawn Gifford: after verifying what I’ve said, it would be nice if you could get Fractured Paradigm to add this company to its list of Monsanto-Free Seed Companies because (IMO) diverse gardens = healthy bellies. And, also IMO, websites like yours (i.e., COMPETENTLY written, as opposed to the oh-so-many mindless wannabes out there) DO make a difference, so no matter how hard your job is, your efforts DO promote equality, and DO ameliorate ignorance, poverty, hunger and disease – those who know their physics cannot argue about that because they well know that the wavefront property is what powers our universe, if not the multiverse. Thank you.]

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Earth Girl!

  3. Another resource for checking out non gmo/ organic seed suppliers and other gardening supplies is your county ag office. I know several people who have lost the organic certification due to using organic supplies from companies that are tied to Monsanto. If you sell your produce at local farmers markets or your own stand that certification can be very important. So check with your ag agent, that’s what they’re there for.

    • For what it’s worth, I just wanted to let you know that we built a GMO-Free search engine for seed catalogs: http://www.PickACarrot.com.

      We do carry seeds from catalogs like Johnny’s, Burpees, Territorial, etc, but we have filters that allow you to search for only organic, OP, heirloom, untreated, etc. So I feel like it could be useful for those commenting and looking for a way to find non-GMO seed.

  4. Does anyone know if bonnie plants is owned by monsanto.

  5. I have a question. I have my my safe seeds , now seedlings. I will plant in containers which worked great last year. But, I don’t want to buy potting soil that will benefit Monsanto or Scott’s. What do I buy ? I really need to plant but want all organic soil. And never want any benefit to Monsanto.I won’t buy from home depot anymore but there is a small mom & pop nursery that is now close by. Should I just ask them ?

    Thanks in advance. I appreciate your article. We have to remain vigilant.

    • It is unlikely that any organic soil you purchase will benefit Monsanto, since they sell only seeds and chemicals, so feel free to buy any organic brand!

      • Just ’cause it says its organic doesn’t mean its free of Monsanto! Monsanto owns Scotts / Miracle-Gro! They are a business and are jumping on the bandwagon of what is selling and organic is hot right now and offer “organic” products. Its getting harder to find products that don’t support the “big 6″ biochemical companies. All I wanted was dirt, just dirt that was clean and not from Monsanto. Despite all the different brands and labels I discovered that any bag, box or packet that says its from “Marysville, Ohio” is owned by Scotts and thereby is Monsanto. Ack! I only found 3 out of 15 products were not Scotts. I ended up buying from the compost company in my city that makes & tests it. Scotts is cornering the home gardening market! Its a tough slog to stay vigilant. Sigh!

        Just as an FYI, some home gardeners are under the impression that we can get a GMO packet of seed off the rack. We CANNOT! Monsanto saves its intellectual property for the commercial farmer making them sigh a contract. They do not offer GMO seed to us the Home Gardener. I find companies that spout the Safe Seed Pledge and yet sell seeds sourced from Syngenta & Seminis, are claiming a hollow promise! It means nothing and is purely a marketing ploy! (just my 2 cents)

    • Look for potting soil that is OMRI(Organic Materials Review Institute) listed or OMRI certified to be assured of truly safe materials used.

  6. I just recently bought some seeds from http://www.cleanseeds.org/ My friend knows the farmer personally who owns the farm and harvests the seeds. They are all non-gmo organic heirloom seeds. He only sells them in a 30-variety pack, but it’s the best prices I’ve seen for that amount of seeds.

  7. Thanks for taking the time to write this informative article.

  8. A very informative and well written article. Thanks for helping the fight against GMO (and of course Monsanto). The world will be better place without them.

    Keep it Growing!

  9. I enjoy visiting this site and the info you post is very helpful. Me, being a big gardener and a “prepper”, have found that Guardian’s Preparedness Seeds found at http://www.asapsurvival.com (this site sells the brand at a lower price than anywhere else I’ve checked) are a great way to go. The seeds are of course Non-hybrid and Non-GMO and are not chemically treated. And… because they are just seeds…real seeds… and not manipulated seeds… they keep for several years. I’ve stocked up. I hope this is helpful from one gardener to another! http://www.asapsurvival.com/food-storage/survival-seeds

  10. I clicked on one of your links- where to buy non GMO seeds 1. and it took me directly to Seminis website. FYI

    • You actually clicked the link for how to AVOID buying GMO seeds, which takes you to the Seminis site so you know which varieties to stay away from. :)

      • Seminis has removed from their website the page taking you to their retailers. Hmmmm….whatever could they be hiding?

  11. If you take a cutting from a plant that is organic and plant it again cant that help avoid growing any gmo plants too?

    • Yes, but not all plants will grow from cuttings.

  12. Hello. I have a question. If I plant a seed that has been genetically modified, when the vegetable grows and produces its own seeds, will those seeds be genetically modified as well? IE – do we run the risk of making the original non-modified seeds extinct?

    • Yes, they will be, which is why Monsanto can sue a farmer for saving seed. The saved seed is considered the intellectual property of the seed company too. And yes, we do run the risk of making the non-modified seeds extinct. Because of biotech market domination and monopolies, as well as pollen contamination, we are losing our agricultural biodiversity faster than ever.

  13. Sadly, I just learned that Seeds of Change has been bought by Mars Inc., which spent $500,000 dollars to fight GMO labeling in California last year. They are now on my “No” list. :(

    I saw this at OccupyMonsanto’s website, in the comments section of the post about Monsanto and Seminis heirloom seed varieties to watch out for. (This is the link offered in #2 above.) http://occupymonsanto360.org/blog/monsanto-free-seed-companies/

  14. Hi I’m new here and had a question! I bought my organic seeds from home depot, I don’t remember the brand of them…but are you saying not to buy these because if it’s owned by Monsanto then we’re supporting him? Or is it that they truly aren’t organic/gmo free? Thanks for you help, information, and listing for places to buy seeds from real honest (and not Monsanto) companies!! Never knew this about owning other seed companies.

    • I’m saying they might be owned by Monsanto, even if they are organic and GMO-free. Monsanto is trying to buy up all the seed companies and seed varieties—even heirloom and organic seeds—in order to hold a monopoly on their DNA.

  15. Great article. This is the second year we’ve been growing our own food. We just recently started learning about Monsanto and how they’re screwing up our food supply. I follow a guy names Mike who has a site called http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com and he talked about gmo-free seed companies. We got our non-gmo seeds from http://www.SeedsNow.com this year and so far everything is growing better than last year.

  16. Thanks so much for writing this! Monsanto makes me SO ANGRY. It is very overwhelming to see everything they are involved in. Thank you for providing important information that is easy to understand, and thanks for giving me a smidgen of hope for the world ;).

    – Rachel

  17. If you want non GMO seeds that’s great. But why do you object to where you buy them from? So long as there is a demand for them (which there seems to be) the marketplace will provide them. In fact their being owned and provided by agri-business helps ensure their long term viability. So long as GMO crops are non invasive and the original strains exist to go back to wheres the harm? Simple arithmetic shows you cant feed the worlds population with non GMO seed only. Theres not enough land to grow enough food (even if you clear cut all the forest to make room, not a good idea incase you didn’t know). So unless you are in favor of thousands of humans starving, GMO and non GMO seeds need to go-exist.

    • You must be new here. :) We absolutely do NOT under ANY circumstances need GMO or even industrial ag to “feed the world.” There is more than enough land, if we use it right. Currently the world produces enough food to feed more than 10 billion people, and over 40% of all food is wasted. GMOs have been a dismal failure and have greatly hurt farmers and local food systems worldwide, whereas agroecological methods are outperforming even the best industrial practices. A farmer in India just harvested 22 TONS of rice off of just 2 acres using agroecological methods. Most people can grow most of their own food in space available in the average suburban yard, or less than 2 acres. Over half of all the food in Russia is produced this way.

      There is ample evidence to back this up and I’ve posted on this extensively. Here’s two links to get you started: Can Organic Farming Feed the World? And here’s another: How Much Land Do You Really Need to Be Self Sufficient?.

      • Great response Dawn. Monsanto’s propaganda has obviously convinced many that we cannot live without them. We all know they will stop at nothing to overcome the entire marketplace. The US government and the FDA are no help in protecting consumers from this madness.

  18. Hi, I love this article, have you checked our Heirloomacresseeds.com?
    I buy from them mostly! Thanks for all of this info. now I have to go through all my seed.

  19. Just curious if you can tell me who owns Burpee. My mom has finally been convinced not to order from them this year but I would like to tell her which conglomerate they are a part of.

    • Burpee is owned by Burpee. However, like many seed companies, they do carry many non-GMO seeds grown by Seminis, which is owned by Monsanto. It’s really tricky now that Monsanto is in the general seed business; they now own far more varieties of seeds than just the GMO varieties they created.

  20. Thank you for sharing this vital information with us at Seasonal Celebration Wednesday! Rebecca @Natural Mothers Network x

  21. Thanks for sharing this on Wildcrafting Wednesday! Hope to see you back on today’s hop!
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/02/wildcrafting-wednesday-9.html

    Just got my seed order from Seed Saver’s Exchange…love that company!

  22. Very IMPORTANT information! Thanks for sharing your post with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday. Hope to see you back today! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/2013/02/melt-my-heart-eco-kids-tuesday.html

  23. Thanks for sharing with Natural Living Monday! This is one of our featured posts this week! I’m sharing it on my facebook page.

  24. Monsanto is the devil! Thank you for this informative piece and keep spreading the word! I knew about their practices already but I read your piece so I can stay informed and do my part. Monsanto must be stopped.

  25. Great info to know! Thanks so much for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you next time at:
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/02/the-homeacre-hop-7.html

  26. Hey Dawn!

    Just a quick note that I’m featuring your post this week at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up! You’ll see your feature on Wednesday. Obviously ;) feel free to grab a button from my side bar. xo!

  27. This really is a contentious issue, and it’s wonderful that you have done so much research into it. I’d definitely not want to be growing seeds that support Monsanto in my garden!

  28. Great post, thank you. I’ve pinned and shared on FB. I stick with heirloom and organic and hope that does the trick. Monsanto is a nightmare….

  29. it’s true! i thought i was buying seed from a “safe” supplier – West Coast Seeds – but then found out a ton of their seed was owned by Monsanto. Since then, i’ve only bought them from a “protected” seed sanctuary on Salt Spring Island.

    thank you for sharing with us at the wednesday fresh foods link up! i hope to see you again this week with more seasonal & real/whole food posts! xo, kristy.

  30. Thanks for the heads up. We’re getting ready to start a small market growing business and have talked about this a lot. We buy mostly from SSE and Baker Creek but would like to have other sources as well.

  31. Very interesting thank you. I had never given this much thought as I’ve not had much experience growing my own food but I definitely intend to do more of this so it’s worth bearing in mind:
    I would love it if you shared this with Healthy Vegan Fridays, a blog hop co-hosted by 3 bloggers. I’m sure our readers would really enjoy this. You can submit a post from Friday to end of Tuesday:
    http://www.greenthickies.com/healthy-vegan-friday-30/

    • Thanks for the invitation! I usually only link up my vegan or raw recipes with your hop, but I appreciate the opportunity to share my other posts too!!

  32. Great follow up to the other article! Thanks. Now I know what I need to do.

  33. I was not aware of this at all! It is very discomforting to know that Monsanto and other big seed companies own so much of the seed in our country, even if it’s heirloom!! Thankfully, I’ve been buying only Baker Seed the last two years.. but it makes me think more deeply about all the produce I buy at the farmers market. I wonder how many of those farmers are supporting only GMO-free heirloom seeds. Geez…

    • I meant to say Baker Creek seeds… :)

  34. Great article and thanks for the lists. I just mailed out my seed order this morning and am very pleased to see that my order is going to a company that is not owned by Monsanto and Seminis. Another happy moment was reading Kelly’s comment about Baker Creek Heirloom seeds as this is where my order went. I must agree – they do have a beautiful catalog – PDF and hardcopy.

  35. Question, I have already bought seeds and before I did I made sure that Ferry Morse was not GMO. The website I looked at said that they weren’t. I did not see them on your list, is Ferry Morse owned by any of those companies?

    • Try giving them a call and asking them if they get any of their seeds from Seminis.

  36. Thank you so much for sharing this information! I was getting concerned because of GMO’s and getting my garden healthy this year. I look forward to getting the best now, thanks to you!

  37. I love Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. Last year was the first year we tried heirloom seeds and I was so impressed. The plants were so healthy and produced great tasting produce. I am trying to get away from anything genetically modified as well and would definitely recommend this company to everyone. Plus they have the most beautiful seed catalogs!

    Thanks for linking up to our Healthy Tuesday’s Blog Hop!
    Kerry from Country Living On A Hill

  38. Thanks for sharing at A Humble Bumble! My brother was just talking about how seeds are genetically modified. Good to know there are places to buy “regular” seeds. :)

  39. Fantastic information! Thank you so much for doing the research you did to provide people with all these great resources to help us make more informed, conscious decisions about the seeds and starts we buy to grow in our own gardens. Kudos!

  40. I own a small heirloom seed company. We are a “mom and pop” company and do NOT support monsanto.
    Thanks for this post.

  41. I’m sure I’m not the only casual consumer/gardener that goes NUTS when I read about another Monsanto power grab. Thanks for collecting this important information. I appreciate your efforts.

  42. Is Mumm’s safe to buy seeds from?

    • If you can’t find them on any of the lists linked above, I would give them a call and ask them where they get their seeds from.

  43. Excellent post…as always! Hope you will hop over to The HomeAcre Hop to share this on Thursday.
    http:www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/

  44. We reviewed our varieties and found 7 we carry which were on your list that are trademarked by Monsanto. In an abundance of caution we have removed them until we can investigate further. Clear Creek Seeds will never give Monsanto a dime of business either directly or indirectly.

    • This is really tricky because Monsanto owns the trademark for the names of these seeds, but they don’t actually own the variety itself. If you are producing your own “Cheddar” or “Best Boy” seeds, then no worries, but if you get them from a third party seed distributor, then they might be supporting Monsanto. Clear Creek is a great seed company and I’m so glad to know that you all are fighting “the good fight.”

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