Certified Organic seed from propagated from plants using open pollination methods, organic fertilizers and pesticides from heirloom varieties can be difficult to find. Unfortunately nature even has a hand in the spread of GMO’s through the food chain. Wind carrying pollen from these manufactured seeds can lead to the contamination of the most protected garden. Hybrids are not as a large of threat to the production of organic seed as genetically modified seed, as they tend to revert back to the parent plants. Sadly, no one knows the long-term effect of GMO’s on the food chain.
As demonstrated by Haiti after their devastating earthquake through their commitment to burn 475 tons of seed donated by Monsanto, gardeners and farmers show increased concern of adulterated seed. This move by a country that appeared desperate shows how concerns over chemicals such as thiriam and fungicides affect us all. Rather than accept and plant these modified seeds, the country reached instead to their local seed banks. Creole seeds which have been used for generations in Haiti by farmers and gardeners who practice sustainable lifestyles were used in place of the patented seeds. They chose instead to replant their forests and employ agroecology methods to retain their sovereignty.
Organic seed must be grown to strict standards in order to gain certification. Prior to harvesting the seeds, the ground must have had a three-year rest from the use of artificial chemicals. Tests are also given before certification to ensure the seed is free from these pollutants. The term “biodynamic seed” may be used by people who employ sustainable gardening methods. In a nutshell this refers to the inclusion of organic practices such as using animal manure, local focus, astronomical planting guides, etc. It does not guarantee organic seed nor does it imply certification, although organics are generally used.
Comparisons between the two seed types are likely to continue as GMO’s infiltrate our lives. Proposed labeling laws differentiating between the two have been introduced due to concerns by consumers. Through the use of patent law, large international companies can be viewed as attempting to control this part of the food chain.
Certified organic seed may be the salvation of mankind, or it may be simply the ability to control what we put into our bodies. Either way, it is healthier than consuming chemicals such as thiriam which has regulations for handling requirements. Health worries including cancer, sterility and even the threat DNA damage have been voiced by concerned activists since the use of GMOs has become mainstream in our food supply. Most home gardeners prefer natural propagation and saving their seeds for planting the next year.
Organic seed for flowers, fruit, herbs and vegetables are available for use by the home gardener. With proper care these will grow to become vigorous plants that can be harvested, canned and used throughout the year. Choosing organic seed from certified sources helps ensure the viability of a sustainable lifestyle for future generations.