SENDING OUT AN S.O.S

A lovely friend of mine asked for me to contribute a piece  for her wonderful blog “We Like It Raw.”    Boy,  it was sure hard for me to pick just one topic; however,  I did finally settle on one!

With more and more folks growing their own food in backyards and balconies, I thought it would be good to revisit all the countless posts I had written over these last 10 years and put them together in one compilation.

TAKING BACK OUR FOOD

I can see the day coming when even your home garden is gonna be against the law.   Union Sundown – Bob Dylan

Spring is here and with it comes a mailbox full of seed catalogs to be drooled over.    Growing your own food is empowering; but, did you know that by planting a garden you might just be supporting Corporate Agriculture?  As seasoned and newbie gardeners alike know, it’s easy to buy new seeds every year.  Saving your own will not only save you money but also, hopefully, will provide some satisfaction as being a minor act of empowerment against the corporate control over the world’s seed supply.

Yep, that’s right.  You’ve probably heard of Big Oil. Well, there’s a new kid on the block.  Multi-nationals now own the rights to many of the world’s food seed varieties. But any concerned gardener can short-circuit the system by saving seed. According to the Organic Consumer’s Association, “While consumers struggle to fuel their cars and put food on the table, oil companies (like Exxon Mobil, BP and Conoco Phillips) and seed companies (like Monsanto, Cargill and ADM) are raking in record profits.”

You think that if you “Grow Your Own” you are free from the clutches of Monsanto?  Think again. What you may not realize is that Monsanto also now owns approximately 40% of the home garden vegetable seed market — making them the largest seed company in the world.

TAKE CONTROL

Save Your Seeds – take back your food supply from corporate control

There are many reasons to save your own seeds

  • to save money
  • to preserve a non-commercially available variety
  • to observe varieties for adaptation to difficult growing conditions
  • to share the bounty of our gardens with other seed savers
  • to have the pleasure of becoming an observer and an active participant in our own food production.

So, what can you do?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Start A Community Seed Bank – connect with fellow gardeners in your area, ensuring seed security. A seed bank protects rare and useful local crops. It is also an emergency source of seed if crops fail due to disease, pests, or bad weather.
  • Buy OP or Heirloom – try to stay away from hybridized or  GMO contaminated seeds

Open-pollinated vegetable varieties reproduce themselves in one of two ways: cross-pollination between two plants (via wind, insects or water) or self-pollination (between male and female flower parts contained within the same flower or separate flowers on the same plant). Beets, brassicas, carrots, corn and squash are cross-pollinating, and so require isolation in the field to keep varieties true. Beans, lettuce, peas and tomatoes are self-pollinating, do not require isolation and are the easiest for seed-saving home gardeners to sustain year to year.

DIVERSITY LOST

“We have neglected to preserve the diversity of our food. Today, we have more brands of shoes than we have of carrots or broccoli.”  —Jules Dervaes

“Seeds are critical to our success as gardeners and farmers. They are compact packages of genetic information and stored food reserves, just waiting for the conditions found in warm, moist soil in order to germinate and create tomatoes, carrots, beans and thousands of other delights out of sunshine, air, water and soil. For most of the last ten thousand years of human history, seed-saving was something nearly everyone practiced, because in order to eat and therefore to survive, it was necessary. The grains and beans which formed the basis of most diets were both seed and food. Grown in large quantities, the best were saved for planting and the rest were eaten. Our ancestors did this each year, generation after generation through the centuries. Variations in climate, soil and techniques from garden to garden and community to community, accumulated through the years, creating the incredible diversity which existed over much of our planet well into this century. These local seeds were integral to life and culture everywhere. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these varieties has disappeared.” From Bill Duesing – Living on the Earth 1999

According to Food & Agriculture Organization,  75% of the genetic diversity of crop plants were lost in the last century. A survey by RAFI found that approximately 97% of U.S. Department of Agriculture lists have been lost in the last 80 years.

BLACK LIST

Seeds companies are being bought up at an alarming rate by Monsanto. Their most recent purchase was Seminis.

It is estimated that Seminis controls 40 percent of the U.S. vegetable seed market and 20 percent of the world market—supplying the genetics for 55 percent of the lettuce on U.S. supermarket shelves, 75 percent of the tomatoes, and 85 percent of the peppers, with strong holdings in beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and peas.

The company’s biggest revenue source comes from tomato and peppers seeds, followed by cucumbers and beans.

Here are a few of the published vegetable varieties that we know that Monsanto owns:

Beans: EZ Gold, Eureka, Goldrush, Kentucky King, Lynx, Bush Blue Lake 94

Carrot: Nutri-Red, Sweet Sunshine, Karina, Chantenay #1, Chantilly, Lariat

Cucumber: Dasher II, Daytona, Turbo, Speedway, Sweet Slice, Yellow Submarine, Sweeter Yet

Lettuce: Esmeralda, Lolla Rossa (and derivatives), Red Sails, Red Tide, Blackjack, Summer time, Monet, Baby Star, Red Butterworth

Melons: Alaska, Bush Whopper, Casablanca, Dixie Jumbo, Early Crisp

Onion: Arsenal, Hamlet, Red Zeppelin, Mars, Superstar, Candy

Peppers: Valencia, Camelot, King Arthur, Red Knight, Aristotle, Northstar, Biscane, Caribbean Red, Serrano del Sol, Early Sunsation, Fat and Sassy

Spinach: Melody, Unipack 151Spinach, Bolero, Cypress

Squash: Autumn Delight, Bush Delicata (producer-vendor), Really Big Butternut, Early Butternut, Buckskin Pumpkin (AAS), Seneca Autumn, Table ace

Tomato: Big Beef, Beefmaster, First Lady I and II, Early Girl, Pink Girl, Golden Girl, Sunguard, Sun Chief Sweet, Baby Girl, Sweet Million

Watermelon: Royal Flush, Royal Star (pet), Stargazer, Starbright, Stars and Stripes, Yellow doll, Tiger

Zucchini/Summer Squash: Blackjack, Daisy, Fancycrook, Sunny Delight, Lolita, Sungreen

” SAVE OUR SEEDS” PLEDGE

I pledge to take back control over the most sacred form of plant life – seeds

I will strive to save my own seeds, encourage self pollination and self seeding “volunteers”

I will refrain from purchasing seed varieties controlled by Monsanto

I will support local seed banks

I will purchase organic, heirloom or open pollinated seeds from independent seed companies whose mission is  to save seed diversity

That little seed packet you now have will determine the future of our food — it’s in your hands.

:: SOURCES ::

Urban Homestead Supply heirloom seeds http://www.peddlerswagon.com/c-95-seeds.aspx

Little Homestead in the City http://urbanhomestead.org/journal/2008/09/25/sos

Little Homestead in the City  http://urbanhomestead.org/journal/2009/01/06/do-you-know-where-your-seed-comes-from/

Primal Seeds http://www.primalseeds.org/bioloss.htm

New Farm http://newfarm.rodaleinstitute.org/features/2005/0205/seminisbuy/index.shtml

Millions Against Monsanto  http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto

 

Comments(7)

  1. frank fey says:

    I had some sweet million come up on their own one year and found them to be better than the seeds I planted the year before.

  2. Be Free says:

    Monsanto, the massive biotechnology company being blamed for contributing to the dwindling bee population, has bought up one of the leading bee collapse research organizations. Recently banned from Poland with one of the primary reasons being that the company’s genetically modified corn may be devastating the dying bee population, it is evident that Monsanto is under serious fire for their role in the downfall of the vital insects. It is therefore quite apparent why Monsanto bought one of the largest bee research firms on the planet.

    It can be found in public company reports hosted on mainstream media that Monsanto scooped up the Beeologics firm back in September 2011. During this time the correlation between Monsanto’s GM crops and the bee decline was not explored in the mainstream, and in fact it was hardly touched upon until Polish officials addressed the serious concern amid the monumental ban. Owning a major organization that focuses heavily on the bee collapse and is recognized by the USDA for their mission statement of “restoring bee health and protecting the future of insect pollination” could be very advantageous for Monsanto.

    In fact, Beelogics’ company information states that the primary goal of the firm is to study the very collapse disorder that is thought to be a result – at least in part – of Monsanto’s own creations. Their website states:
    While its primary goal is to control the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) infection crises, Beeologics’ mission is to become the guardian of bee health worldwide.
    What’s more, Beelogics is recognized by the USDA, the USDA-ARS, the media, and ‘leading entomologists’ worldwide. The USDA, of course, has a great relationship with Monsanto. The government agency has gone to great lengths to ensure that Monsanto’s financial gains continue to soar, going as far as to give the company special speed approval for their newest genetically engineered seed varieties. It turns out that Monsanto was not getting quick enough approval for their crops, which have been linked to severe organ damage and other significant health concerns.

    Steve Censky, chief executive officer of the American Soybean Association, states it quite plainly. It was a move to help Monsanto and other biotechnology giants squash competition and make profits. After all, who cares about public health?
    “It is a concern from a competition standpoint,” Censky said in a telephone interview.
    It appears that when Monsanto cannot answer for their environmental devastation, they buy up a company that may potentially be their ‘experts’ in denying any such link between their crops and the bee decline.

    • Pattie Komai says:

      Thank you, Anais, for this important information. I have shared it with my friends.

      @Be Free…yours is a very well written statement that I hope gets shared in as many places possible. I have shared Anais’ post on facebook, and I hope everyone reads your reply, as well. Word must get out and Monsanto stopped.

  3. Ginger says:

    I hope it never gets as bad as all that. I’d be a criminal gardener for sure.

  4. Carmen says:

    Thank you for this timely and essential information. A plus to living in such a unique climate zone is that many of the “normal” packaged seeds don’t work here anyway so we have to go searching for local varieties or save seeds. I’m in the process of talking with my community about seed saver exchange and will be sharing this information. Mahalo!

    • katy says:

      One thing you mentioned is that not many plceas have cover crop seeds. I have found several plceas that sell them, and I am always interested to read about all the benefits that each variety/mix provides. Have you checked into Peaceful Valley? They are one of the plceas that have a really good number of the cover crop products, and also very helpful info about gardening in general. As to Baker Creek, they are at the top of my list as well!!! Thanx for the rundown of your faves!

  5. Juanita says:

    A wise biodynamic farmer once told me that when you save your own seed, each generation continues to adapt to your environment and gets better and stronger with each planting!

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