Organic vegetables start out as seed...
For the past few years there has been an uproar in the vegetable seed business as Monsanto purchased Seminis in 2005 (a seed conglomerate that has 40% of the U.S. vegetable seed market) and in 2008, De Ruiter Seeds (one of the top vegetable breeders in the world). Monsanto is now in the vegetable seed business for the first time, and it's in big time. More than 55 percent of store bought lettuce, 75 percent of U.S. tomatoes, and 85 percent of peppers now originate through Monsanto's fingers.* Our salad plate is now being dished out by Monsanto! We now have yet another reason to buy organic produce. Hopefully this will not go to naught, and it will be the impetus to get even more Americans to start a vegetable garden...and possibly a fruit garden as well!
In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Diamond v. Chakrabarty that genetic coding could be owned. This changed the seed industry from public to private, and corporations outside of the seed business (mostly pharmaceutical and chemical cos) started buying up seed companies. A few multinational companies now own our plants' genes! And our choices keep getting smaller as these hybrid seed companies 'perfect' our seed for us, breeding out all of our food history.
Due to Monsanto's huge purchase, you'll need to do a bit of homework if you wish to steer clear of purchasing their seed, as even reputable seed companies that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge, are still selling Seminis (now Monsanto) seed. Buying seed from a seed exchange, buying open-pollinated and organic, are safe ways to avoid Monsanto seed.
It is good to remember that although hybrids have been 'naturally' manipulated, their genes are stable. But their successive seed will be either sterile or revert back to a parent's tendencies. Some hybrids have been around a long time and you will even see some sold as organic. Hybrids keep big seed companies in business, as you must buy the seed each year. Genetically modified seed on the other hand, is manipulated in a laboratory. Foreign genes are 'forced' into a plant which causes other unintended gene changes as well. Then the plant is cloned. Many times the genes are unstable and can jump to other plants, contaminating whole fields. And since GM seed is patented, if you are found with a GM plant on your field, that you did not buy that year as fresh seed, you can be sued. As so many farmer's can already attest to. Monsanto has a huge budget just for investigating and prosecuting farmers for patent infringement. Although Monsanto has yet to release genetically modified vegetables into the market, they spend almost 2 million dollars a day on research and development,** so GM vegetables are probably not very far away. Monsanto currently holds the technology for more than 90 percent of the world’s genetically engineered crops. And it holds thousands of U.S. seed patents.*** If you see PVP (Plant Variety Protection) listed, that means the seed or plant carries a U.S. patent.
Another term to note when buying seed is heirloom. There is no standard as to what 'heirloom' means. To a small-town seed exchange it might mean one thing, to a seed conglomerate another. Most often heirloom means that seeds are open-pollinated with at least a 50 year history. See the heirlooms wiki page for a good synopsis. Also note, before buying seed, that 'treated' seeds are coated in chemical anti-fungals (most likely Captan or Thiram) and dyed. Most small seed companies let you know if a seed has been treated. As to organic seed- best to buy- but most seed varieties have yet to be certified organic. We need to keep certifying varieties as organic, and this is a fairly slow process.
The first list below is a list of Safe Seed Companies- the first few listed under each region sell only organic- then those below sell some conventional seed as well, but it is noted if they sell Monsanto seed. If they do, avoid their conventional seed or check the second list, which lists Monsanto's vegetable varieties.
The second list below is a list of popular Monsanto seed. It would be very lenghty if all were included, but there are links to Monsanto's products pages so that you might do further research. Many seed re-sellers buy seed from a broker who has purchased a huge block of seed, the broker breaks up the order, and then re-sells to numerous mail-order seed companies. So, many companies carry the same seed. And unfortunately many of these seed companies then re-name the seed, adding to the further confusion as to which is a Monsanto seed. :-(
High Mowing Organic Seed
100% organic certified seed: vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers.
Over 450 organic heirloom, open-pollinated and organic hybrid.
100% organic vegetable seeds and hardy organic heirloom seeds. Some open pollinated.
Grain, hay, forage, wildflowers, compost, organic fertilizers, pest control and accessories as well.
Note there are some complaints about shipping times posted on-line. Dirt Works was hit hard during recession and we hope they can hire more help.
Safe Seed Pledge.
Turtle Tree Seed
Vegetables, flowers, herbs, grain and cover crops.
Mostly organic- clearly marked.
Biodynamic, open pollinated, no hybrids.
Untreated vegetable, tubers, herb, & flower seed. Many certified organic.
Cover crops, soil amendments & supplies for organic growers.
Safe Seed Pledge. No GMOs, etc. Good prices. Order early.
Website a bit difficult to navigate.
All seeds are open pollinated (non-hybrid) and untreated.
No GMO. Many Organic. Good selection of organic.
Many garden packages. Organic fertilizers.
22 organic veg choices- large selection of untreated seed.
Sells only large quantities. Sells Monsanto conventional seed.
Johnny's has 324 organic products, including 198 vegetable seed varieties.
Many heirloom. Safe Seed Pledge.Still carries 40 Monsanto varieties, which is about 4% of their conventional vegetable varieties. Their intention is to replace them. See Monsanto vegetable seed list below, if you wish to avoid.
is owned by Burpee Seeds.
50 Organic Vegetables and Herbs. European and American heirlooms. Good recipes.
Their conventional vegetables might be Monsanto seed.
Check list below for list of Monsanto vegetable seed.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Vegetables and herbs. Most certified organic, all untreated.
99% of seeds open-pollinated. No GMO. Safe Seed Pledge.
Grows 40% of own seed. Also sells bulk. Nice catalog.
Sow True Seed
Vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Only non-hybrid, untreated, open-pollinated, heirloom and organic seed.
Safe Seed Pledge.
Seeds for the South
Untreated heirloom vegetable and herb seed.
Very small selection of organic. Sells Monsanto seed.
Park Seed Company (bought Sow Organic Seed Co. in 2007)
Flower, vegetable and herb seeds.
Untreated, non-GMO, and some Certified Organic seed.
Note- it is easy to go off their organic pages onto the conventional
and they sell some conventional Monsanto seeds.
See list of Monsanto products below.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Vegetables, flowers, herbs, bulk seed.
1400 heirloom varieties. Hugh selection. Good prices.
Only open-pollinated seeds: pure, natural & non-GMO. Good reviews.
400 untreated vegetable, flower, herb seeds. A large selection of Certified Organic.
Signed Safe Seed Pledge. No-GMOs.
Beautiful packets- good info. Nice website.
Sand Hill Preservation
700 heirloom seeds- vegetable, herbs, flowers, grains. Root vegetables, poultry.
Produce 90% of the seed they sell.
Untreated, some certified organic.
Signed Safe Seed Pledge. No GMOs.
Ordering only by regular mail.
Seed Saver's Exchange
A non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of heirloom seeds.
Largest non-governmental seed bank in the United States. Maintains more than 25,000 endangered vegetable varieties. Hugh selection of open pollinated vegetables, beans, potatoes, flowers and herbs. Many certified organic. Good prices.
Heirloom Acres Seeds
1000 varieties of open pollinated and heirloom seed.
Good selection of Certified Organic.
Very few seeds treated.
Seed varieties grown in Indiana for Midwestern gardeners.
Vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers. Safe Seed Pledge.
Most seed certified organic. Produce much of their own seed.
Grannys Heirloom Seeds
Good selection of heirloom vegetables and gardening suplies. Strawberries, onions
No organic but all open-pollinated. Signed Safe Seed Pledge.
Inexpensive peat pots.
Annie's Heirloom Seeds
Nice selection of non-gmo heirloom vegetable seeds, only unaltered long-proven varieties. No hybrids. Family owned and operated.
Abundant Life Seeds
Certified Organic and Biodynamic vegetable, flower and herb seeds, garlic and potatoes.
Garden accessories. Safe Seed Pledge, no GMOs.
Wild Garden Seed
Certified organic farm-original varieties of salad greens, vegetables, herbs and a few flowers.
Certified Organic heirloom and other open-pollinated seed varieties adapted for the Pacific Northwest.
Victory Seed Company
Rare and heirloom seeds. All seeds open-pollinated, non-hybrid and untreated.
Signed Safe Seed Pledge. No GMOs. Good size selection.
Irish Eyes - Garden City Seeds
Potato, vegetable, flower and garden seeds.
Most all seeds organic, many heirloom. All untreated.
Large selection of vegetable, herb, flower. Safe Seed Pledge.
Sells a small amount of Monsanto's conventional seed. See list below.*
A non-profit and a project of Ecology Action which does garden research and publishes books and research papers. Large selection untreated, open-pollinated, non-GMO, heirloom seed. Vegetables, herbs, flowers, grains, mushroom kits, green manures, compost and carbon crops. Good prices.
Some Certified Organic and Biointensive.
Seeds of Change
100% organic certified seed: vegetables, flowers, and herbs.
Over 1,200 varieties: many heirloom, open-pollinated, native and hard-to-find.
Certified Organic Vegetable and Herb Seeds and much more. Packets or bulk.
Sells own brand of Certified organic- plus sells Seeds of Change, Renee's Garden Seeds, Turtle Tree Organic Seeds, TomatoFest Organic Seeds, Horizon Herbs Organic Seeds.
Grass Valley, California
Vegetable, wild flower, herb and grass seeds
Sells only open-pollinated and untreated seed. Organic seeds are marked with an asterisk.
Signed Safe Seed Pledge. Sells many of their own seeds. Website a bit challenging.
Specializes in high-altitude and southwest seeds.
Sustainable Seed Company
Only heirloom open-pollinated seed. No hybrid, treated or gmos.
65% of all heirloom vegetable seed is grown on organic farms in California.
Over 100 varieties of heirloom seeds for less than a $1.
Non-profit. Sells 350 varieties of heirloom arid-land adapted seed.
Natural Gardening Company
Vegetable, herb and flower seeds. Many organic and open-pollinated.
Organic plants, but hybrids too. Sells some Monsanto seed. Check list below.
Popular Monsanto (Seminis) seeds-
for full listing of Seminis seeds hit vegetable name, which will take you to appropriate Seminis' page. To see De Ruiter varieties hit De Ruiter link under cucumber, eggplant, tomato, pepper. To make things even more confusing, each mail-order seed company might resell the same seed but use a different name for it.The only way you can be 100% positive you are not buying a Monsanto seed is to check with the re-seller or buy from a company selling their own seed or organic or open-pollinated.
Beans: Brio, Eureka, EZ Gold, Goldrush, Kentucky King, Lynx, Xera...
Broccoli: Captain, Heritage, Liberty, Packman, more...
Carrot: Nutri-Red, Sweet Sunshine, Karina, Chantenay hybrids, Chantilly, Lariat
Cauliflower: Cheddar, Fremont, Minuteman, more...
Cucumber : Babylon, Dasher II, Daytona, Homemade Pickles, Speedway, Sweet Slice, Yellow Submarine, Sweeter Yet...link to De Ruiter cucumber list...
Eggplant: Black Beauty, Dancer, Fairy Tale, Gretel, Hansel, Tango, Twilight...De Ruiter Eggplants...
Lettuce: Baby Star, Blackjack, Esmeralda, Lolla Rossa, Monet, Red Butterworth, Red Sails, Red Tide, Summer time...
Melons: Alaska, Bush Whopper, Casablanca, Dixie Jumbo, Early Crisp, Stars and Stripes, Sugarnut, more...
Okra: Cajun Delight
Onion: Arsenal, Candy, Hamlet, Mars, Red Zeppelin, Superstar, many more...
Peppers: Aristotle, Biscayne, Camelot, Caribbean Red, Cherry Bomb, Dulce, Early Sunsation, Fat and Sassy, King Arthur, Northstar, Red Knight, Serrano del Sol, Sahuaro, Super Chili, Valencia, many more...De Ruiter pepper varities...
Pumpkin: Buckskin Pumpkin, Orange Smoothie, Prizewinner, more...
Spinach: Bolero, Cypress, Melody, Unipack 151, many more...
Squash: Autumn Delight, Blackjack, Bush Delicata, Butterstick, Daisy, Early Butternut, Fancycrook, Gold Rush, Latino, Lolita, Patty Green Tint, Really Big Butternut, Seneca (all), Sungreen, Sunny Delight, Table Ace...
Tomato: Baby Girl, Big Beef, Beefmaster, Beaufort, Celebrity, Favorita, First Lady I and II, Early Girl, Geronimo, Golden Girl, Maxifort, Pink Girl, Sunguard, Sun Chief Sweet, Sweet Million, Trust...link to De Ruiter tomato varieties...
Watermelon: Bambino, Crimson Glory, Royal Flush, Royal Star, Stargazer, Starbright, Stars and Stripes, Tiger Baby, Yellow Doll
As an alternative way to shop for seed, visit the non-profit Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) Organic Seeds Database- www.omri.org/seeds - lists certified "final handlers" for organic seed. List is by produce. Pick a vegetable and find a seller.
Here are some of the brand names that Monsanto owns and 'packages' their seeds as:
American Seeds, Asgrow, Campbell, DeKalb, De Ruiter, Diener Seeds, Fielder's Choice, Fontanelle, Gold Country Seed, Hawkeye, Heartland, Heritage Seeds, Holdens, HPS Seed, Hubner Seed, icorn, Jung Seed Genetics, Kruger Seeds, Lewis Hybrids, Peotec, Poloni, Rea Hybrids, R.H. Shumway, Seeds of the World, Seminis, Seymour's Selected Seeds, Specialty, Stewart, Stone Seed,Totally Tomatoes, Trelay, Vermont Bean Seed Company, Western Seeds. ****
But remember seed companies buy Monsanto seed in bulk
and then repackage it under their name as well...
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