Learn why Monsanto and GMO must be avoided. See what companies have questionable seed-buy practices, and who sells safe seed.
What is GMO, and who is Monsanto?
A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. (wiki)
The Monsanto Company is a U.S.-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed as “Roundup”. Monsanto is also the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed; it sells 90% of the US’s GE seeds. (wiki) Seminis is also listed on this page often, they were bought out by Monsanto and cannot be considered a safe, no-GMO, company.
Why does it matter if seed has been genetically modified?
These books have excellent reviews at Amazon and go very in depth into the issues with Monsanto. Links open in a NEW window/tab so you can come back easily!
>> The Council for Responsible Genetics has an excellent FAQ page that will answer this pressing question. I invite you to visit this page on the CRG site and learn more.
Other links to read:
For more information, just Google Monsanto. Even search their own website – their own pledges about creating a healthy sustainable planet go against everything they manufacture and do. You can’t make Round Up then turn around and say you’re trying to save the environment.
Who sells “safe seed” (not genetically modified)
I get a lot of emails asking for help with folk’s research. I can’t do it all for everyone, but I did write up a post on how you can do the research. It can be difficult finding out if a company is supplied by Seminis/Monsanto, but this page helps make sense of it.
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.
—> Visit the “More on Avoiding Monsanto” blog post
(link opens in a new tab/window so you can easily return here)
Use this information as a starting point for your research. Call the companies you are interested in purchasing from and learn about their seed buying practices.
>> Visit this page, from the Council for Responsible Genetics. These companies have signed their safe seed pledge.
The following may be companies that sell only safe seed but have not signed the safe seed pledge (check the link above for full list):
Abundant Life Seeds
Annapolis Valley Heritage Seed Company (Nova Scotia, Canada)
Garden City Seeds
Mountain Rose Herbs
Virtual Farm Seed Co (added on the request of the company)
Now, who to avoid?
Added May 21, 2013 Please note: No home garden seed is GMO (for now). However, I want to make it clear that just because the seed is safe, doesn’t mean buying any seed from any company is a good idea. Many, many companies are supplied by Seminis (owned by Monsanto), who sell both GMO and no-GMO seed. The seed you get may be safe, but by buying from companies who support GMO, you are supporting GMO yourself.
These are companies currently, or at one time, known to sell seeds from Seminis and/or Monsanto. If you think a company doesn’t belong here, email with with information about the company’s seed practices. If they are supplied even in part by Seminis/Monsanto, they won’t be moved to the safe seed list, even if they sell no GMO seed.
If a company is on this list but also on the Safe Seed list above, it generally means that they’ve agreed not to sell GMO but are still supplied by Seminis/Monsanto.
Anderson’s Seed & Garden, Inc
Ball Horticultural Company
Burpee – I get dozens of emails a month about Burpee. They admit to getting non-GMO seed from Seminis. As stated above, my goal is to in no way support Seminis/Monsanto/GMO, therefore, they will stay on the avoid list.
DeBruyn Seed Company, Inc.
Dege Garden Center
Dixondale Farms/The Onion Patch
Earl May Seed
Early’s Farm & Garden Centre
E & R Seed Co
Farmer Seed & Nursery
Flower of the Month Club
Ferry Morse – For more information on Ferry Morse please see my note on facebook.
Fukuda Seed Store
Germania Seed Co
Garden Trends, Inc.d/b/a Harris Seeds
Germania Seed Company
H.F. Michell Company
McClure and Zimmerman Quality Bulb Brokers
Meyer Seed Co of Baltimore, Inc
Mountain Valley Seed
Otis S. Twilley Seed Co., Inc.
Park’s Countryside Garden
P. L. Rohrer & Bro., Inc.
Rocky Mountain Seed Co
Roots and Rhizomes
Seeds for the World
Seymour’s Selected Seeds
Southern States Cooperative, Incorporated
Spring Hill Nurseries
Tomato Growers Supply
The Page Seed Company
The Vermont Bean Seed Company
Tomato Growers Supply Company
Vis Seed Company, Inc.
Willhite Seed Co.
William Dam Seeds
Seminis’ home garden dealer list: http://www.seminis.com/global/us/products/Pages/Home-Garden.aspx
Farm seed for Canada: http://www.seminis.com/global/us/products/Pages/Canada.aspx
Other helpful links:
Monsanto’s Seed Brands
Monsanto Vegetable Seeds