Thursday, November 18, 2010

An update....

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!  ;)


Erin said...

LOL, I am accumulating a stack of them already, but I won't even look at them until after Christmas! Well, actually I'll probably take them on our road trip to MN and flip through them when I'm not driving and make my husband crazy with all my seed talk LOL

Kelly said...

You can seed chat welcomely with me anytime, us gals can really get gabbing when it comes to the garden. I want that trip to be here for you so badly! How many days left until the ship pulls in?

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Kelly,
I just read your last two posts. I knew Monsanto did not have good practices, but did have not educated myself about what all they own. I better do some reading.

When I first started gardening, I got seeds from Johnny's Selected Seeds. I even had their very first catalog that I held onto a number of years. It's now one of those things I got rid of that I wish I hadn't. I'm shocked to learn they are affiliated with a big corporation.

Nowadays, I just get my seeds locally. Maybe I should look into a small, privately owned company.

I'm like you, though, Kelly. I garden organically, but not everything I buy is organically grown.

I also wear blue jeans 80% of the time. Here, I avoid clothing made in China, and now, I have something else to think about! Even though I avoid clothing in China, I will buy it on occasion.

Kelly said...

Hi Sue, so glad you stopped by. I guess the thing to remember is that Johnny's and just about any other seed company bought many, many seeds from Seminis for years. Then they were aquired by Mansanto. The seeds themselves have not changed, just to whom a portion of the proceeds goes to. When the patents expire some of their best seeds stay in the market. Now, having said that, there are of coarse many companies that breed their own varieties (like Johnny's), and they offer us alternatives to the big giants. So it all comes down to a personal choice I guess, we fortunate to have so many options.

I love all this dialog with/from my fellow gardeners!!

Thomas said...

I heard that Monsanto has not had a good year profit wise. It seems that some of their miracle seeds have not performed as promised and farmers are not buying into such claims as readily anymore.

Great post Kelly!

Robin said...

Thanks for all of your research on this subject. Lynn at Woodridge just posted this today...take a look at it. I think that this needs to be looked into a little further also.

Kelly said...

HI Robin, great link you shared. It is all such a scary mess! I been reading a few pages at a time here and there from a book called Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. It has made me lose all faith in the federeal government to do ANYTHING other than function as a giant, greedy corporation.

Kelly said...

Thomas, I have heard rumblings of that as well. It will be interesting to see what the future holds!

LynnS said...

Hi Kelly. I am just now visiting your blog for the first time, by way of Robin's blog. Imagine my interest when I see your first two posts on Monsanto and GMO seeds!?!! Aargh!!

We are emailing and calling our Senators each day because of the big-government over-reach with the S.510 Senate Bill. It's one more leg up for the government and one more slap-down for small farms, CSAs, home growers, and the organic foods.

The whole GMO product line (and the attitude) scares me beyond words. This year we grew our garden much much larger and grow heirloom varieties (with one exception, some Cucumbers, at my husband's insistence).

I am happy to read that you are taking a more serious look into ridding your shelves of GMO products. And yes, the stuff really is everywhere. There are no more cooking oils except for olive oil. I only keep/use lard from locally-raised pigs, olive oil, or coconut oil. Since most recipes I find use vegetable oil of some type, I have to re-make or convert the recipe. Or I make stuff up as I go along. LOL

By any chance, did your commenter named "Mark" visit here before? Usually when I post a blog entry that is calling out a big corp, I get new visitors -- they are from the companies they claim they're not from. If you check on their IP and do a track-back, it's obvious. (They think we're

Anyway, great posts -- please continue writing! I'd like to check back to see what else you come up with.

Kelly said...

Hi Lynn,

I copied/pasted Mark's comment from a different blog which is linked in the previous paragraph. Interesting angle that he could in fact be a from one of the mentioned corporations.

I actually liked what he had to say for one reason: he was reminding us all that we can boycott the small company seed providers that sell Seminis seed all we want, but we are still using Mansanto products, and in a more direct manner than we often realize.

I think being conscience of that, and making reasonable efforts to move away from it is the best thing I can do. Your cooking oil suggestions are a wonderful start. I am so glad you stopped by and shared what you and your husband are doing. The S.510 bill scares me as well, even more so because I know 'they' will never give up. If this bill fails to pass there will be another version right behind it.

Jane said...

I love Johnny's seeds and have used them for years. They always out perform my others from High meadow and Seeds of Change. I am glad to see Johnny's is still on top of this development and it shows good character they are wiling to address this issue. What a shame we even have to do this, check ever single thing we come in contact with. How did we get to a point were life is not important, only the dollar.

Kelly said...

Jane, that has been my experience as well....Johnny's seeds have never failed me. I am hoping to have the same experience from Fedco this year. Really, I just like to buy my stuff from anyone in Maine. :)

(The Pinetree catalog has lots of dog-eared pages, luckily most of it is NOT seed. )

Veggie PAK said...

I have bought from Johnny's Selected Seeds for a few years. Each person should go to this site and read the letter and the response it received from Johnny's before they make a decision. Don't jump on the bandwagon until you know who's driving and where it's taking you.

Any computer nerds out there could check out Mark M.'s electronic address (in HTML format I guess) and find out who he actually is. Maybe it's someone expressing his opinion, maybe it's not. Deception is an art these days, so we have to be wary of certain practices.

P.S. I don't work for Johnny's either.
Thank you for going to that address and reading "Johnny's" response to the letter.

Kelly said...

I linked Johnny's response in the initial post as I agree, one must read all sides. I love Johnny's, and I believe that the comment (by Mark) that I included is supportive of Johnny's as well. Maybe I am reading it wrong!?!?

Either way, one can buy Semini's seeds, or one can choose an alternative....the choice is ours. :)