In the last few weeks, we have received a few inquiries about hybrid vs. GMO seeds, what a GMO seed is, and the Safe Seed Pledge. I will briefly discuss these topics here for our interested Blog followers. Since these are highly controversial and heated topics, I would respectfully request that if you want to respond or comment on this topic, please do so in a courteous, respectful, and tolerant manner. Our Blog page is not an open forum for arguments, and we will politely remove the content from our page. Thank you for your understanding.
First of all, seed and gardening have been an integral part of our business for over 70 years. We sold heirloom seeds long before they were trendy or popular. To us, they were just great old varieties. We practiced, used, taught, and sold organic gardening and organic products decades before it was the “En Vogue” way of gardening. Anderson’s Seed has seen the transformation of the garden seed industry from strictly open pollinated, to the emergence of vegetable hybridization, to the now controversial genetic modification of seeds. Honestly, we’ve seen it all, and nothing surprises us; we only wonder at how much noise and splash the next big marketing gimmick will make in the seed marketplace. Amidst all this change and occasional turmoil we have consistently strived to do one thing: provide all our customers with the best choices and options to make their garden the best it can be.
From our humble beginnings (500 square feet of retail space), when my grandmother first opened the doors to our business, her focus was one thing only: business. Her philosophy was to have the best products, give the best service, and take care of business. Times were tough for a businesswoman in the 1940′s, and she couldn’t afford to lose or offend a single customer. That meant that political, religious, and social views had no room being a part of her business. Those were personal decisions, they had no logical place in business, and therefore, she didn’t want her business affiliated with any other organization that might adversely effect her reputation. This is a policy that we have strictly adhered to throughout the years. Not once in our 70+ years can I think of a time that we have openly supported or opposed any political group, any one religion, or any social group. We have donated time, materials, and expertise to hundreds of groups and individuals, but never openly supported or opposed any one group. If you don’t believe me, just ask my sister, who has campaigned for the Cache County Treasurer office at least 5 times, how many times we put up posters in the store or signs on our lawn for her advertising blitz? Never. She’s never even asked, because she knows it won’t happen. It’s business, not personal.
Keeping all this history and tradition in mind, I present the short answers to the previously asked questions (on our Facebook page).
What is a GMO seed and how does it differ from a hybrid?
GMO seeds have been genetically altered by humans at the DNA level, exchanging very specific bits of DNA from one plant to another to enhance or add beneficial traits in the target plant. Hybridization is the method of taking two parent plants, breeding them together, and hopefully yielding an improved offspring that retains the best parts of both parents. Both of these processes are complicated, detailed, and work and technology intensive. However, hybrids are produced selectively using only natural reproductive processes. In hybrid seed the DNA is not physically altered by humans, only by the plants they are paired with. Do not let my watered-down, in-a-nutshell explanation fool you. Both of these methods require a lot of trial, and a whole lot more error.
Anderson’s Seed & Garden does not currently carry or sell any GMO seed, nor do any other home gardening businesses. We do sell and recommend many varieties of open pollinated and hybrid vegetable seed. A lot needs to change for GMO seed companies before the legal risk is low enough to offer said seed to the home gardening market. Judging by current circumstances we don’t think that will be happening any time soon.
What is the Safe Seed Pledge?
The Safe Seed Pledge was instituted by the Council for Responsible Genetics in 1999 in response to the ongoing research into genetic modification of plants & organisms. By taking the pledge, one commits to not sell any seeds or plants that have been genetically modified.
What is our take on the Safe Seed Pledge?
The Safe Seed Pledge is grounded in a deep roots political movement (the CRG). It was originally set up as a marketing tool to differentiate GMO opposition from the supporters (as stated on their website). It is now being used by groups interested in boycotting Monsanto Corporation (for various reasons, but mainly for their stance on GMO seed patent protection) to identify any business that has not taken the pledge as a supporter of Monsanto or it’s many divisions.
In compliance with our historical commitment to keeping business strictly about business, we neither support nor oppose this pledge.
After careful analysis, we have found the pledge, at this time, to be redundant and illogical to our current business model. It is currently impossible to sell or purchase ANY home garden seed that has been genetically modified, as NONE exists. Nor is it legal or even slightly probable to sell GMO seed to anyone without their consent, as a legal contract must be signed by each purchaser (in human blood ) agreeing to not steal, propagate, resell, or disseminate the creator’s intellectual and technological property, under pain of death… in so many words. This situation may change in the future, but I think there are way too many hurdles, way too much expense, and way too many lawsuits over patents and property rights for this to happen in the near future.
For way more information than you really want, please continue checking our blog as I have much more info to provide. I’ll try my best to enlighten you even more on GMO’s and the Monsanto Boycott.