Some links updated May 17, 2012 to reflect new pages on the Seminis site.
I get so many emails asking if XYZ company is “safe” or if some list from some person is accurate, and lots of other questions, I actually don’t have time to answer them all, let alone do the research for dozens of specific companies and try to figure out if they really are safe seed or not.
I did take a few hours today and compiled some information (which will eventually make it onto the Monsanto page) on facebook, which I’m turning into a blog post for readability.
So, to answer the question, “is XYZ seed company safe?”: Well, I can’t say FOR SURE, but I can help you figure it out. Monsanto owns 2 seed brands for home gardeners: Seminis and De Ruiter. Seminis seems to be the main brand for the US & Canada, with De Ruiter in other parts of the world.
When you’re visiting a seed company, there’s 2 things to ask – do they develop their own seeds, and if not, where do they come from; and are they (or where they get the seeds from), on this list (links to Seminis Home Garden dealers), or one of the others when you use the “Select a Location” drop down. If a seed company that is on this list (or linked to a company on this list) claims they sell no-GMO seeds, well, it is up to you to trust them and buy the “no-GMO seeds”, but my personal goal is to avoid all connections with Monsanto/Seminis.
For specific seeds, you can see exactly what Seminis sells here (home garden varieties) or here (professional varieties). I am unsure if Seminis allows the end dealer to change the seed name, but it is a start. To be fair (even though I don’t need to be where Monsanto is concerned), it looks like not every seed they produce is GMO. Some appear to be traditional hybrids. Again, my personal goal is to avoid all connections with Monsanto/Seminis, so I avoid all the seeds on this list.
Here’s an example of some research I did for a reader:
A reader emailed me to ask if Victory Seeds in Molalla, Oregon is “safe.” At first glance, they do appear to be, but I did find at least two possible links to Seminis – a “Golden Acre” Cabbage, and a “California Wonder” pepper.
I found this connection by using the link above. I opened up the Victory Seeds Cabbage page and Seminis’ Cabbage page, and on both, you can see links for “Golden Acre” cabbage. Same thing with the “California Wonder” pepper. I can’t say for sure that the seeds Victory Seeds sells are from Seminis (if they aren’t, they may want to change the name), but it is a strong enough connection that I would call and ask.
Now, what if they are Seminis seeds? What if they a no-GMO variety? It’s up to you if you what you do. You can avoid the company all together, you can avoid just the Seminis linked seeds, you can buy the seeds if you trust they are non-GMO (and probably a few other options). It depends on the “level of separation” you want to create between you and GMO.