The gardening game
Do you know where your seeds come from?
You may be surprised…

Somehow I always thought the seeds, bulbs, and roots I purchased from mail order companies came from a quaint American farm, somewhere in the heartland, with burgeoning rows of high quality vegetables and flowers. I was as wrong as a two-headed frog


With the purchase of Seminis in January of 2005, Monsanto is now estimated to control between 85 and 90 percent of the U.S. nursery market. This includes the pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer markets. By merging with or buying up the competition, dominating genetic technology, and lobbying the government to make saving seeds illegal, this monolith has positioned itself as the largest player in the gardening game.

Monsanto holds over eleven thousand U.S. seed patents. When Americans buy garden seed and supplies, most of the time they are buying from Monsanto regardless of who the retailer is.

Most home gardeners started noticing the initials PVP appearing next to selections in the mail order garden catalogs a few years ago. This stands for Plant Variety Protection. It means the seed or plant carries a U.S. patent. It is illegal to save seed from or otherwise propagate PVP varieties. Consumers will have to buy more each year if they wish to grow a PVP variety.

Greenpeace chides, “Monsanto-no food shall be grown that we don’t own.”

Before it was acquired by Monsanto, Seminis eliminated 2,000 varieties of seed from its inventory. The first things to go were the older open-pollinated varieties; vining petunias, butterfly weed, butter beans, German green tomatoes, and other heirlooms grown by gardeners for generations, replaced by genetically engineered varieties.

High-tech patented hybrid varieties are far more profitable for transnational seed companies to produce and sell. These new frankenseeds are bred to perform adequately over a wide geographical area, giving the patent holder a much larger market.

As consumers are losing the freedom to choose what they will buy and grow, thousands of varieties of garden seed are walking the plank, straight into the abyss of extinction. Consider this, in 1981 there were approximately 5,000 vegetable seed varieties available in U.S. catalogs. Today there are less than 500, a 90 percent reduction.
Read more

Who Owns the Seeds

Articles covering seed-related Intellectual Property Protection

Coming in 2009

Freedom Seeds – featuring safe, secure and pure seeds.


  1. Anais says:

    Comments are back on…. wonder how they get turned off anyhow

  2. Talithia says:

    Untill I started to read your site I didn’t know about Monsanto. Keep up the great work. Maybe one day all 300 million of us will stand strong together against the Monsanto’s of this world. Kindness and Love Talithia

  3. Sinfonian says:

    Thanks for the information. I did a bit of research myself for a blog post a reader of mine wanted me to do. Insane is all I can say. Even if what they’re doing isn’t illegal, didn’t anyone there ever take an ethics class?

    I also have had a fairly extensive correspondence with Territorial and now know more about seeds and patents than I ever thought I would. Good to let folks know.

    By the way, just like any patent, seed patents run out, which has happened apparently on some popular varieties. Of course what’s to keep M from just destroying the parent or genetically tweeking it enough to re-patent it. I wouldn’t put it past them.

    I am not going to destroy seed, so I may be growing one Monsanto variety in my garden this season, but it’s likely it has an expired PVP so at least it didn’t benefit them directly. All else are OP or Heirloom.

  4. GarlicMan76458 says:

    The link “Freedom Seeds” just below “Coming in 2009” doesn’t work:

    Coming in 2009

    Freedom Seeds – featuring safe, secure and pure seeds.

  5. Shirley says:

    Jere Gettle at has over 1200 heirloom and open polinated varieties. They have been doing extensive GMO testing on the heirloom corn varieties they would like to sell. Sadly many varieties have been contaminated and these grown in areas that are not commercial corn growing areas. They only sell seed that tests GMO free.

    If and when the Dervaes family starts selling seed I hope it has many varrieties that are not already sold by rareseeds. In that case the two would truely compliment one another and expand the seed available rather than just being competators. I buy most of my seed from rareseeds at this time and would love to also be able to support the efforts of the Dervaes seed comapan as well.

  6. Alice says:

    I would not count of patents running out. The drug companies have already got around that one. They buy up the patents to the drugs so they can keep the price up and the off brands can not be made. It kind of looks like they want the keep us under their thumbs and control all that we do. They already know where we are and how much money we have. Of course it is all for our protection they say. Don’t buy in to that stuff.
    Thanks for keeping us all informed.

  7. Di says:

    It was you guys that got me informed on Monstanto and I am so thankful! Also the reason I am freedom gardening, and now REALLY looking forward to freedom seeds! yay!

  8. Sinfonian says:

    Baker Creek is great, but in a completely different area and climate to mine, so I am not a target customer of theirs. At least Freedom Seeds would be known to work on the west coast. Yep, seeds are a regional/climate thing. That’s one of my first questions, will it grow here?

  9. Cygnus MacLlyr says:

    This lack of variety in the majority of markets is why i buy primarily from S.S.E./Heritage Farms. As an example, their farm/seed exchange preserves and sells, over varying years, 2,944 VARIETIES OF TOMATOES alone. Make ya salivate just looking through their catalog.
    All that, and their efforts to keep genetic diversity alive… why not give them a gander, readers?


  10. Kimber says:

    A patent on SEEDS? Since when do corporations own FOOD! My goodness, what have we let America come to…

    What happened to “This land is your land, this land is MY land….This land was made for you and me.” Pretty soon they are going to be snatching bell peppers out of my mouth and asking me if I have a VEGETABLE permit! I hate the way things have gone and I hope my generation continues on the path to turning this country around.

  11. Shalara Ang says:

    Surprising to hear all these craps happened in US.What on the ground these people can paterned plant seeds in ensuring their wealth properly safeguard! Luckily,it doesn’t happen in my country here. I saving my seeds for so many different plant and species so far.

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