Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Understanding Seeds

It is important to understand the main types of seeds.

* Heirloom seeds (also called Heritage seeds) will reproduce the same every generation. These are the seeds you can save and replant on a continual basis.  Most of us assume all seeds are like this.

* Hybrid seeds are the product of two unique plants and the seeds will gradually revert to the dominant parent over subsequent generations. While providing more variety, these must be purchased again each season to obtain the same crop.

* Genetically Modified (GMO) seeds are patented, requiring a license fee and certain pesticides. Some GMO crops are designed to produce sterile (terminator gene technology) seeds. GMO seeds mix both plant and animal matter in ways that nature never intended.

GMO companies like Monsanto are part of the pesticide industry and they have been aggressively buying up seed companies for the past 20 years. Corporations prefer fruits and vegetables that are picked before ripening and have tougher skin in order to survive shipping. However if given a choice, consumers lean in the opposite direction, towards those with more delicate skin and flavor.

Farmers of generations past dedicated their entire lives to producing seeds for plants that would grow well in their local area, only to have them go extinct due to commercial interests.

"Fair Trade" alliances such as CAFTA and Codex Alimentarius seek to irradiate, patent and/or genetically modify all seeds. The new Iraqi Constitution only permits farmers to plant Monsanto GMO seeds. 

However, seed diversification is essential if we are to withstand food viruses such as the one that caused the Great Potato Famine in Ireland in the 1840s.

Stock up on Heirloom seeds while you still can.


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