Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
"Seed catalogs are starting to arrive in mailboxes across the Northern Hemisphere with home gardeners everywhere starting to plan which seeds they will sow in their spring gardens.
A positive trend in recent years is the growing number of gardening enthusiasts choosing to plant gardens using organic and/or heirloom seeds.
What most of these home gardeners don’t realize is that corporate behemoth and GMO titan Monsanto has been gobbling up the seed market faster than a caterpillar can munch a tomato plant! With one fell swoop in 2005, Monsanto grabbed approximately 40% of the US vegetable seed market with its acquisition of Seminis.
This means that a home gardener could unknowingly be supporting the development and proliferation of genetically modified crops if the seeds used are from Seminis. In addition, Monsanto now apparently owns many of the names of the seed varieties themselves!
Planting a sustainable home garden is much more than just choosing certified organic seeds and seedlings because Monsanto has cleverly positioned itself to make money off the home gardening trend.
Does this mean that even if you buy organic or heirloom seeds from a completely independent company some of your purchase might be supporting the bad guys?
Yes, it does.
Home gardeners would do well to bone up on where to purchase their seeds so they aren’t inadvertently doing business with companies that maintain a working relationship with Monsanto-Seminis or were acquired by them.
My friend Beth in Minnesota, an avid food researcher, has been digging around to figure out the best ways to buy seeds and seedlings for your home garden without one red cent going to Monsanto.
Buying Organic or Heirloom Seeds Without Supporting Monsanto
Beth has done her very best to make sure the information she has uncovered is current and pertinent with updated listings for the 2013 growing season. Here are the steps she recommends for those who want to truly strike a blow for sustainability in every way with their home gardens:
Avoid buying from the seed companies affiliated with Monsanto. Here’s a list of these seed companies: http://www.seminis.com/global/us/products/Pages/Home-Garden.aspx
Buy from this list of companies Monsanto HASN’T bought and are not affiliated or do business with Seminis: http://www.occupymonsanto360.org/2012/03/06/monsanto-free-seed-companies/
Avoid certain heirloom varieties because Monsanto now apparently owns the names. This article lists the seed varieties to avoid: http://www.occupymonsanto360.org/2012/03/17/monsanto-owned-seednames/
Ask seed companies if they have taken the Safe Seed Pledge. Here’s a list of companies that have done so: http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/ViewPage.aspx?pageId=261
More Background on Monsanto’s Quest for World Seed Domination
Monsanto’s corporate quest is clearly to make money on each and every one of us whether we choose to eat supermarket frankenfoods produced with abominable, patented GM crops or carefully plant and tend an organic garden at home. Here’s some background information on the subject you may find interesting as well as enlightening:
If you are a home gardener and have information to contribute regarding these steps, please add to the discussion in the comments section. Also, please spread the word via gardening forums you may participate in that folks need to be very careful when seed sourcing for their spring gardens this year else they might be unknowingly supporting Monsanto.
Let’s make this the year when Monsanto’s grip on the worldwide seed market loosens and the movement to seed sustainability gains momentum!
**Update: The day after this article was published, the CEO of a large soybean seed company in the Midwest emailed me complaining that the article was short sighted and insisting that Monsanto is helping feed the starving people of the world. He even went so far as to say that GMO crops are “proven safe”. Click here for the text of this CEO’s entire email plus my written reply.
I have also received email complaints from two other seed companies, one in Canada and one in Arkansas, that do business with Monsanto-Seminis and were offended by what they viewed as inaccuracies in the post. In response, I have adjusted the text slightly and moved linked sources to within the text rather than only listed at the end to make the message of the post as clear and precise as possible so as to not result in any consumer confusion over the information.
I have received no complaints about this article from seed companies completely independent of any affiliation or ties to Monsanto-Seminis."
Monsanto-Free Seed Companies
Here are some seed companies. Please let us know of any we missed and we will add them to this list. Names are in alphabetical order, try to search for a company in your bioregion when possible. Also, it never hurts to ask any company if they sell any Seminis seeds or seeds from Seminis’ partners. (Sites with asterisks* have the approval of Farmwars.info and verification by recognized leaders in the battle)
All Good Things Organic (SW)
Annapolis Valley Heritage Seed Company
Annie’s Heirloom Seeds
*The Ark Institute
Backyard Beans and Grains Project
*Baker Creek Seed Co. (MW)
Beauty Beyond Belief (BBB Seeds)
Diane’s Flower Seeds (she has veggies now, too)
*Family Farmer’s Seed Co-op
*Fedco Seed Co.
Garden City Seeds
Heirlooms Evermore Seeds
High Mowing Seeds
Hudson Valley Seed Library
Ed Hume Seeds
Kitchen Garden Seeds
Kusa Seed Society
Lake Valley Seeds
*The Living Seed Company
Mountain Rose Herbs
*My Patriot Supply
Native Seeds for the Arid Southwest
Natural Gardening Company
New Hope Seed Company
Nichol’s Garden Nursery
Organic Sanctuary (SE)
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply
Prairie Road Garden
Sand Hill Preservation Center
*Seed for Security
Seed Saver’s Exchange
Siskiyou Seeds (NW)
*Sow True (SE)
*Sustainable Seed Co
Trees of Antiquity
Turtle Tree Seed
*Underwood Garden Seeds
White Harvest Seed
*Wild Garden Seeds
*Wood Prairie Farm (NE)
Canadian Seed Companies:
Greta’s Organic Garden
Salt Spring Seeds
Seeds of Victoria
The Cottage Gardener
Seed Site (Italy)
The Real Seed Catalogue (UK)
Another tool you can use to check up on a seed supplier is supplied by Monsanto’s Seminis themself: http://www.seminis.com/global/us/products/Pages/Where-to-Buy.aspx#
Monsanto and Seminis heirloom seed varieties to watch out for:
First of all, Monsanto or anyone else can’t actually OWN these varieties of seed, but as developers of some of these varieties and as suppliers of them under many different companies it can be hard to tell who owns what. It does not stand to reason that any crop of these varieties growing today or anytime in the future will be genetically modified in any way. Some of these varieties can be found without any continuing connection to Monsanto or Seminis but it is important to be a little more cautious with these.
If you are the type of gardener who purchases vegetable seeds or seedlings, including tomato plants from a local garden center, be mindful the varieties you choose. Conversely, you might be placing money into the hands of Monsanto Corporation. Below is the list of Seminis/Monsanto home-garden vegetable variations. It’s usually best to buy directly from seed farmers and companies that you can trust, but here’s the list just in case.
Beans: Aliconte, Brio, Bronco, Cadillac, Ebro, Etna, Eureka, Festina, Gina, Goldmine, Goldenchild, Labrador, Lynx, Magnum, Matador, Spartacus, Storm, Strike, Stringless Blue Lake 7, Tapia, Tema
Broccoli: Coronado Crown, Major, Packman
Cabbage: Atlantis, Golden Acre, Headstart, Platinum Dynasty, Red Dynasty
Carrot: Bilbo, Envy, Forto, Juliana, Karina, Koroda PS, Royal Chantenay, Sweetness III
Cauliflower: Cheddar, Minuteman
Cucumber: Babylon, Cool Breeze Imp., Dasher II, Emporator, Eureka, Fanfare HG, Marketmore 76, Mathilde, Moctezuma, Orient Express II, Peal, Poinsett 76, Salad Bush, Sweet Slice, Sweet Success PS, Talladega
Eggplant: Black Beauty, Fairytale, Gretel, Hansel, Lavender Touch, Twinkle, White Lightening
Hot Pepper: Anaheim TMR 23, Ancho Saint Martin, Big Bomb, Big Chile brand of Sahuaro, Caribbean Red, Cayenne Large Red Thick, Chichen Itza, Chichimeca, Corcel, Garden Salsa SG, Habanero, Holy Mole brand of Salvatierro, Hungarian Yellow Wax Hot, Ixtapa X3R, Lapid, Mariachi brand of Rio de Oro, Mesilla, Milta, Mucho Nacho brand of Grande, Nainari, Serrano del Sol brand of Tuxtlas, Super Chile, Tam Vera Cruz
Lettuce: Braveheart, Conquistador
Melon: Early Dew, Sante Fe, Saturno
Onion: Candy, Cannonball, Century, Red Zeppelin, Savannah Sweet, Sierra Blanca, Sterling, Vision
Pumpkin: Applachian, Harvest Moon, Jamboree HG, Orange Smoothie, Phantom, Prize Winner, Rumbo, Snackface, Spirit, Spooktacular, Trickster
Squash: Ambassador, Canesi, Clarita, Commander, Dixie, Early Butternut, Gold Rush, Grey Zucchini, Greyzini, Lolita, Papaya Pear, Peter Pan, Portofino, President, Richgreen Hybrid Zucchini, Storr’s Green, Sungreen, Sunny Delight, Taybelle PM
Sweet Corn: Devotion, Fantasia, Merit, Obession, Passion, Temptation
Sweet Pepper: Baron, Bell Boy, Big Bertha PS, Biscayne, Blushing Beauty, Bounty, California Wonder 300, Camelot, Capistrano, Cherry Pick, Chocolate Beauty, Corno Verde, Cubanelle W, Dumpling brand of Pritavit, Early Sunsation, Flexum, Fooled You brand of Dulce, Giant Marconi, Gypsy, Jumper, Key West, King Arthur, North Star, Orange Blaze, Pimiento Elite, Red Knight, Satsuma, Socrates, Super Heavyweight, Sweet Spot
Tomato: Amsterdam, Beefmaster, Betterboy, Big Beef, Burpee’s Big Boy, Caramba, Celebrity, Cupid, Early Girl, Granny Smith, Health Kick, Husky Cherry Red, Jetsetter brand of Jack, Lemon Boy, Margharita, Margo, Marmande VF PS, Marmara, Patio, Phoenix, Poseidon 43, Roma VF, Royesta, Sun Sugar, Super Marzano, Sweet Baby Girl, Tiffany, Tye-Dye, Viva Italia, Yaqui
Watermelon: Apollo, Charleston Grey, Crimson Glory, Crimson Sweet, Eureka, Jade Star, Mickylee, Olympia
Note: Not all of the veggie varieties in the above list are Monsanto/Seminis exclusives. Consequently if you spot some of these varieties in the catalog of an heirloom seed-seller, just check with the seller to make sure the seeds were not purchased from Seminis/Monsanto. But if you find these seeds on a rack at a big-box garden center, you have every right to suspect they were purchased from the evil empire.