What Do You Think About GMO Seeds?

I’m going to go a bit off topic today (just a bit, though- I am a gardener after all) to mention something that’s important to me and to find out how you feel about it. A few months ago I signed a petition against the deregulation of genetically modified (GMO) alfalfa that was up before the USDA. Sadly, last week the USDA voted in favor of the big biotech companies and deregulated the use of GMO alfalfa with no oversight or provisions for organic farmers whatsoever.

ready to harvest corn bed

As an organic gardener, I’ve previously mentioned my opposition to GMO seeds and the differences between hybrids, which are just taking, say, two tomatoes with characteristics you like and cross breeding them to get one tomato with both characteristics (and, by the way, this can happen deliberately by humans or in nature from wind carrying pollen) and genetically modified seeds where something completely different is added to the genes of the seed.

Like herbicides.

And pesticides.

Why? So that the ground around the seed can be doused with toxins and the seed still grow. Now, I’ve read recently that some organic foodies think that these GMO crops may be good and may actually decrease the amount of herbicides used today. However, the use of sprays is only one of the reasons I’m scared, leery, distrustful of the new GMO bandwagon.

Here are a few others (excerpted from an email I received from Stonyfield Farms president, Gary Hirshberg):

We believe that these (GMO) crops are resulting in significantly higher uses of toxic herbicides and water, creating a new generation of costly “super” weeds; pose severe and irreversible threats to biodiversity and seed stocks; do not live up to the superior yield claims of their patent holders; and are unaffordable for small family farmers in the US and around the world. We believe that organic farming methods are proving through objective, scientific validation to offer far better solutions. We also believe that unrestricted deregulation of GE crops unfairly limits farmer and consumer choice.

The problem with the unrestricted deregulating of GE crops is that the dangers of contamination are permanent and irreversible. Whereas Congress has enacted other legislation to correct and reverse past transgressions, for instance the Clean Air Act and clean water legislation, a “clean crop act” would never be able to undo the damage and losses caused by GE crops. (Click here to read the full article)

Now, we as home gardeners don’t have to worry (right now, anyway) of planting genetically modified seeds, as they are only used in large-scale farming. The most affected crops are corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beets and cane, and now alfalfa.

But in addition to the things Gary mentioned above is one other important thing I worry about that he does not mention:

What do our bodies think when we eat corn (or soy, or canola oil) that has been modified in such a drastic way?

The truth is, we don’t know. And the European community is wary enough that they have banned GMO seeds and products. Hmmm.

Lest you think this doesn’t touch you, most corn chips, mayonnaise, and salad dressings that are not organic (the certification doesn’t allow GMO products) are produced from GMO crops. For more information on which crops are being genetically modified, read this article from Healthy Eating Politics- I think you will be surprised at the numbers.

This is obviously not a cut-and-dried issue and there are many different views revealed in just a casual Google search. But I’m curious to know-

What do you think? Are you concerned about GMOs? Have you thought about this issue? Do GMOs influence what you buy for your family to eat?

PS. Margaret Roach at A Way To Garden has a detailed write-up about it as well.


  1. says

    I was so sad to hear that the alfalfa thing went through. I signed that petition a long time ago and just kind of assumed everything was ok. :( I am most worried about the contamination issue. If the “holdout” farmers’ crops get contaminated, we may be on the way to having only GMO seeds. That is terrifying and sad. Maybe this should be on Sad Saturday!

  2.  says

    Money and power… and the government just keeps grabbing it. Yes, I am very skeptical.

    In my opinion I am the only one who is truly looking out for me and my family. GMO’s don’t make sense to me on the most basic level so I avoid them for my family.

    I think it was in Barbara Kingsolver’s book that she talked about the farmer whose crop was contaminated by the GMO’s from a neighboring agribusiness and was then sued for not having the right to grow the invasive product. He ended up having a large fine imposed on him for having the patented gene in his crop, of course through no fault of his own. Lord help us.

    I feel the same way about pharmaceutical companies too, but I’d like to retain a few friends so I’ll stop now:)

  3.  Sherri B. says

    I am so glad you brought this up. I am very concerned about this. Isn’t it just like our government to allow this. I am getting to the point where, if the FDA has said something is great, then I stay clear of it! I started last year doing NO, GMO seeds and as my catalogs come in, I am checking for “The Safe Seed Pledge”. If it is not there then the catolog is out.

    I must make a confession that I did not really know the extent of the GMO until last year. It is frightening and it makes me start to trace, in my mind,how far reaching,example: The straw that I put in the coop and the run for the chickens, it has seeds still in it that they love to scratch after as soon as it is put down…Hmmm, when I buy it I don’t ask for organic straw, is there even such a thing at the local feed store?

    I could go on and on..sorry, I will leave off here.

    Thanks again for bringing this up.

  4.  says

    I avoid them if I know about them. I dont like this one bit. You insert a pesticide in a seed and that becomes part of what it produces. So that goes inside of you too as a poison. Also it will harm bugs and birds who eat the seeds etc. Soon you wont have them at all , then who will pollinate all these things? No I think this is massively wrong and playing God.

    Of course if you want to get political………its all about control. If you can only buy this seed and are not able to save the seed, then they have you. You will have to purchase seed every year. And if you cant afford it you starve. Even Bill Gates has talked about depopulating the earth, that theres too many people.

    And guess who paid to ship tons of seeds to that seed vault in Greenland…..Bill Gates. No, theres something vile and evil going on with our food supply. Buy as many heirlooms as you can cuz they want to ban those too.

  5.  says

    i too am leary of gmo products. we use probably 95% organic food items…and steer away from the big name manufacturers that have gotten on the organic product bandwagon.
    i also read the email from gary hirshberg, it is a huge concern.

  6.  says

    The sad thing is that I read that Stonyfield and Whole Foods Market, among others, have agreed to quit opposing the mass commercialisation of genetically engineered crops such as Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready alfalfa. This means that there are fewer voices out there now for the small local gardeners who care about where our food comes from. I just can’t help feeling a bit betrayed by their willingness to sit down and cut a deal for “cooexistense”. ?Really?

  7.  Anonymous says

    I really don’t like the idea of GM “foods”, if they are foods anymore. I avoid them whenever I can, but am concerned that the info does not have to appear on the label. I will have nothing to do with Canola since a farmer on the Canadian prairies was sued over growing GM canola that had self sown on his property. As he had not purchased the seed (because he did not want to grow it) he unintentionally infringed on copyright, and even though the GM product actually contaminated his crop, he was successfully sued and lost his family farm. There is something (everything) really, really wrong with the whole idea. Do I think there is a conspiracy? – Uh, yeah.

  8.  Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Thanks, guys for the comments- I’m so glad to know there are others (not just the big-wigs writing about it, but little ol’ you and me) out there who care about this kind of stuff. Let’s keep voting by buying what we know is non-GMO!

    I do have to mention, though, that Gary Hirshberg did mention that there was a letter sent out that falsely accused them of quitting the opposition to GMO alfalfa. He said it was blatantly untrue and they will continue the fight at Stonyfield. He addressed this in detail in the rest of the letter I linked to above, if you’d like more information.

    Well, there’s certainly more reasons than ever to grow your own food, isn’t there?

  9.  says

    Jami, thanks for linking to my page. I’ve updated the numbers to reflect 2010 data. It’s great to know others are wary of GM crops too.

  10.  Diana (Di) says

    Jami, Sherri just pointed out your post after seeing me write about the GMO decision by the USDA. Hot under the collar I am since I hadn’t seen any of this on any headlines and only stumbled upon the decision. I won’t get started on my distaste, but will only say I’m thankful there are others who are on top of this. I will never buy anything from Whole Foods again!

  11.  Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Di- yes, the whole thing is sad, really. I visited your blog and followed the link to the Truthout page. Ack- the details are even worse. We’ll just have to keep doing what we can!

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