Safe Seed Question from a Beginning Gardener

On Monday I heard from a beginning gardener with a question about how to find non-GMO vegetable seeds for her first gardening efforts.

Her Question

“You’ve been on my mind the past few days with all the talk about Monsanto and GMO seed.

Do you have a resource for buying seeds?

I’m going to start my own little garden this spring and thought I’d see.”

My Answer

When you’re buying vegetable and herb seeds for your garden, look for companies that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge.

Scroll down the list to find your state. In Colorado, you’ll see the same seed companies that donate seed packets for the Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign that I organize every year in Denver:

BBB Seeds
Lake Valley Seeds
Botanical Interests
Renee’s Garden (in California)

About the Safe Seed Pledge

More than 100 companies have signed the Safe Seed Pledge developed by the Council for Responsible Genetics, a nonprofit and nongovernmental organization in Cambridge, Mass.

Seed manufacturers and distributors voluntarily sign the pledge to not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The pledge states that signers want to maintain a safe source for seeds and believe more research and testing is needed to understand the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds.

About the GMO Debate

In the debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs), some say we shouldn’t tinker with a plant’s biology. Others believe it’s acceptable to genetically engineer plants to increase crop yields, improve pest resistance, lower production costs or enhance the nutritional value of certain foods.

There seems to be no middle ground in the ongoing controversy.

GMOs were first used in commercial cultivation in the mid-1990s to help plants tolerate herbicides and resist damage from plant viruses. Proponents say GMOs are just another option and a helpful tool for farmers.

However, not everyone agrees that GMOs benefit agriculture. Organic farmers worry that pollen from genetically altered crops could find its way onto their crops robbing them of their organic label.

While organic farmers worry about cross pollination, health advocates argue GMO crops are unsafe for human consumption. Environmentalists say the GMO crops harm soil ecosystems. They warn of the unpredictable consequences of introducing GMOs into the environment.

The potential for contaminating other seeds and crops was one reason why agricultural communities in California began banning the propagation and cultivation of GMO crops in 2004.

Another disadvantage of GMO seeds is, unlike heirloom and open-pollinated seeds, GMO seeds can’t be saved from year to year and need to be purchased every growing season.

Fortunately, home gardeners have the option of purchasing vegetable, herb and flower seeds from companies that sign the Safe Seed Pledge and refuse to sell any chemically treated or GMO seeds.


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