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!
So, planting a Monsanto-free garden is not so simple as buying certified organic or heirloom seed anymore, now that Monsanto owns so many seed distributors. Seminis’ regular, non-GMO seeds are carried by many popular garden catalogs (including Burpee), and most large chains of nurseries and hardware stores.
This means that a gardener or homesteader could buy heirloom or organic seeds, and still unknowingly be giving money to Monsanto—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.
- The Difference Between Open Pollinated Seeds, Hybrid Seeds and GMOs
- The 10 Best Seed Companies for Heirloom and Non-GMO Seeds
How to Find Non GMO Seeds
So, how can you make sure that none of the seeds you buy this year are supporting Monsanto or one of the companies owned by them—even when you’re buying non-GMO seeds?
Here are five ways to keep Monsanto out of your garden:
- 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.)(Here’s a way to find out what stores to avoid.)
- Buy, plant and save heirloom seeds that only come from companies that don’t get their stock from Seminis or Monsanto. (Here’s a list of 10 of the best.)
- Ask seed companies if they have taken the Safe Seed Pledge and tested their stock for GMOs. (Here’s a list.)
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!