As the seasons grow:
Five Big Things to Know About GMO, Hybrid and Heirloom Seeds
24th May 2019

When you go out and talk to people about what has happened to our food distribution system, you’ll find that the topic of genetically modified organisms or GMO foods is confusing.

People know that GMOs exist, and that there is opposition to GMOs, but they don’t really know what the GMO planting process entails. As a result, people have a lot of questions about what a GMO is, how it’s grown, and how it’s distributed. Here are five key things to understand when you’re talking about GMO in relation to seeds.

1.      GMO Seeds Are Not Available to a Small Buyer

You cannot walk into a lawn and garden store and buy GMO seeds. These seeds are only available for agricultural producers, and widely used in big agriculture farming practices.

Farmers who want to use GMO seeds to plant corn, wheat or potatoes will typically sign a contract and pay a big premium for these seeds. The types of seeds that the average gardener gets over the counter for a small victory garden do not include results of genetic modification and engineering.

2.      GMO and Hybrid Are Both Aimed at Plant Evolution – But in Very Different Ways!

This is an extremely important thing to understand about how we got to where we are today.

The process of creating hybrid seeds involves combining biological organisms, plants, in ways that resemble the breeding of domestic animals or livestock. Through a process of natural selection and physical engineering, scientists are able to target specific features of various plants such as fruits and vegetables and evolve those features over time – for example, to provide bigger, firmer tomatoes or tighter clusters of peas or beans.

By contrast, genetic modification involves taking the actual genetic material of an organism and using it to modify the outcome. This involves scientific processes like gene splicing that you can’t do with sophisticated biotech resources.

It’s hard to call genetic modification a “natural” process in any sense. It’s really the kind of thing you only do in a lab. As a result, it comes with much higher costs. One of the ironies of GMO seeds is that they are only available to a small elite group. While many people would not want to buy GMO seeds because of their opposition to GMOs, it’s still the case that smaller producers can be locked out of competition with much larger factory type farms.

3.      You’re Not Just Paying for the Seed

When large producers buy GMO seeds, they’re not paying for that small physical seed that they might hold in their hand. That seed is not worth the high amounts of money charged for some GMO products.

Much of what growers are paying for is the research and development behind GMO engineering. Even hybrid seeds can carry their own research and development costs, because there was a process of selection and feature modification that went on to generate the seeds themselves. Heirlooms, on the other hand, are heritage seeds – they represent the most natural evolution of agriculture, and they’re the most widely available and affordable seed stocks.

4.      Open-Pollinated Seeds are Handed Down by Nature

Unlike hybrid and GMO seeds, open-pollinated seeds are evolved naturally through natural pollination that happens in the field, and not in a laboratory.

Heirloom seeds are typically open-pollinated seeds with their own benefits and advantages.

Here’s a good example of how heirloom seeds can be superior to some hybrid versions.

Part of the time intensive hybrid process may be involved in choosing and selecting features that make large numbers of large crops sell well to end consumers. A lot of this involves how the fruits and vegetables look – how big they are, how perfect they look and what kinds of color they have.

In selecting those features, what some hybrid processes do is strip away some of the natural taste and vitality of the crops in question. That’s one reason why some people consider various heirloom choices to be more flavorful and authentic than hybrid seed options.

5.      Multiple GMO Problems Lead to Serious Health and Safety Concerns

One of the problems with GMOs is that they’re kind of an untested field. Because they are so reliant on laboratory work, we just don’t know quite how the genetic modification is going to affect the natural world. As a result, other countries around the world are banning GMO products. In America, regulators and scientists continue to insist that GMO is perfectly safe and push GMO products on a consumer base with the argument that GMOs will be a way to feed the world as human population increases. Not everybody buys that argument, though, and many have concerns about the results that we might see from genetic modification down the road.

Another major problem is agricultural practices where GMO crops lead to the inordinate spraying of herbicides and pesticides on fields which make their way into the human diet.

The basic idea goes like this – because scientists can genetically modify certain plants to withstand conventional herbicides and pesticides, the growers are then able to blanket spray a crop to kill weeds or eradicate pests without hurting the plant itself. However, the residues from these sprays will be consolidated in the food products that go to market. Here again, American regulators and scientists continue to pound the drum of various research claiming that this type of spraying is entirely safe for human consumption, even though Monsanto is now facing trials for possible carcinogenic effects of glyphosate, a commonly used product by GMO growers.

This alarming guide from the EWG makes it crystal clear: people who don’t like to rock the boat might tell you that this kind of practice can’t exist, that it can’t go on. But it does!

By reading the above, you can understand how GMO related to seed stocks and why you will not “buy GMO seeds” at the market.

You can Learn More about the plight of farms, food, families, and freedom by visiting our parent organizatians media group at Farm Fresh Media.