I am still reading, still educating myself and I came across this blog, with a post titled Keep Mansanto out of your garden, which has Johnny's Seminis seed list cut way down from the 2009 data I had read a few days ago. This makes me happy. One reader's comment really struck me and I want to share it with you:
Mark M. - "I think it’s great that people are making wise consumer choices, and I’m comforted that so many people are reacting with their hard earned dollars to avoid Monsanto products. But your use of the phrase Monsanto-Seminis is a bit misleading.
Seminis was previously owned by an eccentric Mexican billionaire, who sought to buy up many, many seed production companies from around the world, not just in North America. Some of these (Peto Seeds, for instance) had been in operation for decades prior to Seminis’ purchase of them. The fields (and farmers) that grew seeds for Peto, now just grew them for Seminis. Same high quality, often organically grown, and this trade allowed for seed farmers to make a competitive buck growing and breeding top-of-the-line vegetable seeds. Seminis actually promoted genetic diversity in seeds, and came to control production on (as you say) some of the golden standards in garden seeds.
There is no question that Monsanto has purchased and now controls Seminis, but Seminis operates as a division of Monsanto, and still relies on contracts with the same grower families that provided seeds for Peto and so many others. Seminis sells seeds. Monsanto’s chemical divisions sell the GM products, and after all, Monsanto is a chemical company, just like Bayer and Syngenta, and many others who have invested in seed production.
So the misleading element here is to suggest that small seed companies that still carry the Seminis products are somehow on the payroll or in cahoots with Monsanto – which is inaccurate. Also inaccurate is the general assumption that all these seeds are suddenly genetically modified. Of course they’re not! They’ve made money over the years because of good breeding, not laboratory tampering. A blinkered boycott of all Seminis products will simply put a lot of farming families out of business. This is not a defense of Monsanto, but your readers should be better informed before they jump on the bandwagon that paints Monsanto (tellingly deleted above) as the Devil.
It might be a poster child for evil corporatism and dubious science – that’s not my beef. But be aware that if you’re wearing denim right now, or if you own a pair of jeans bought in the last ten years, you’re wearing Monsanto’s roundup-ready cotton, and you’ve paid for it. And it is industrially grown crops like cotton (as well as soy – for those of you who enjoy tofu, miso, etc…) that directly contribute money to Monsanto, unlike buying a packet of garden seeds that benefits Seminis (by possibly a penny) and the growers who produce the seeds.
I hear these discussions all the time, and really think the conversation should be expanded and kept in check. Again, informed consumers can make a difference, which is a good thing. Partially informed consumers just make partially informed choices.
For the record, I do not work for Seminis and would never apologize for Monsanto – I’m just trying to shine a more full-spectrum light on this very common debate that is raging about garden seeds."
This mention of denim and other food products is what I have been fighting with myself over, why punish myself and Johnny's over a measly packet of seeds when there are so many other objects I don't boycott? But it was the farmer part that got me. Seminis was/is known for growing high quality seeds, and if there are good farmers behind those seeds I don't want to punish them either. I think my decision has been made. I love seed saving, but I also love the development of new varieties, especially those that will put more food on my family's table. That is after all why I do this gardening thing. Now back to the catalogs! ;)