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General News    H4'ed 9/13/12

What's in a Seed?

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" A seed has the power of all its ancestors. The strength of the oak is also in the acorn.   A seed is greater than any country, stronger than any army, and has longevity far beyond any human society.

  We are the keepers of the seed, and thence destined to wield its power. And that power will only be lost to those that forget that it is here. "

G.W. Martin, editor of Sap Pail

Just as an egg is a potential person, a seed is a potential plant. We use the terms "seed" and "seminal" in an almost identical sense as when we say "He planted a seed in my mind regarding this idea" or "His ideas were seminal to my thinking." Seeds, semen and eggs are the initiating foundations of life. To mess with these foundations is incredibly arrogant and dangerous.

Mary Shelly knew this when she wrote Frankenstein. Those that are involved in sustainable farming practices knew Shelly's prophetic genius when they refer to Monsanto seeds "Frankenseeds" and the food produced from these seeds, "Frankenfood." Think of this anytime you open a can of DelMonte corn, or when you read the back of a label on processed food and find no indication of whether it contains genetically modified food. Chances are very high if you find it in the middle isles of the grocery store, and it contains corn, sugar beets, canola, or soy. That also includes packaged products containing corn or soy oil or corn and/or beet based sweeteners.

Seeds are sacred. Indeed, there are reports that the top 1% have saved seeds in a vault, perhaps in Scandanavia, so that they can survive while the rest of us are dying from their greed and arrogance that are destroying the planet.

We DO still have alternatives. FEDCO seeds, for instance, is an employee and customer owned and operated cooperative that does not knowingly sell genetically modified seeds. On the FEDCO website,, CR Lawn states:

Seeds are the basis of agriculture. The selections we make determine more than flavor, nutritional value, appearance and other characteristics we are used to reading about in seed catalogs. The decisions we make about the seeds we plant on our farms and in our gardens will shape the future. Furthermore, the seeds we have access to are a product of our past; they represent the choices made by individual farmers and gardeners for thousands of years.

CR Lawn also suggests we all participate in the effort to save seeds and exchange them with others, like us, that prefer to depend on open-pollinated, non-GMO seeds.

1. To renew your age-old partnership with plants. Seeds are the life force. Plants, as living beings, desire to reproduce. By allowing them to go to seed and complete their growth cycle, you cooperate in a process essential to all life forms on Earth.

2. To retain control of your food supply. Some things are too important to allow other people to do for you. Food is a basic necessity and the cornerstone of our culture. Control of the seed is key to control of our food supply. By saving seeds you retain that lifeline. Over the past two generations, the seed industry has done almost no work to maintain, improve or develop open-pollinated varieties that will come true from seed. What little has been done has been accomplished by dedicated amateur seed savers and breeders. We need more such people. Instead, the industry has emphasized hybrid varieties whose breeding lines are trade secrets and whose seed will not come true to type. Lately, biotechnology research has almost completely replaced classical plant breeding at our universities and in the seed industry.

3. To preserve our heritage and our biodiversity. Farmers saved seeds and improved food crops for millennia. Seed companies have been on the scene for fewer than three centuries. Only in the last hundred years have farmers and gardeners become widely dependent on seed companies. Today the seed industry is so concentrated that just five large multinational corporations control 75% of the world's vegetable seed market. They add and drop varieties according to their own financial interests. Many of our present varieties have only one commercial source. If they are dropped, they will disappear and you won't be able to get them--unless you save seed.

4. To preserve the varietal characteristics you want. Most varieties being developed by the industry are for large-scale food processors and marketers. For the most part, they are bred for uniform ripening, long distance shippability, and perfect appearance at the expense of taste and staggered ripening. If you want the best-tasting varieties, save your own seed from the ones you like.

5. To develop and preserve strains adapted to your own growing conditions. The large corporations who control the seed trade bought out scores of small and regional seed companies and dropped many of the regional specialties. They are interested only in varieties with widespread adaptability. If you want varieties and strains most adaptable to your specific climate conditions, you can get them only by saving your own seed. Over several generations, seeds can develop very specific adaptabilities to the conditions at your site.

6. To help preserve our right to save seeds. The industry continues to place more and more restrictions on farmers' and gardeners' right to save seeds. Variety patenting, licensing agreements, and restricted lists such as that maintained by the European Union, are industry tools to wrest control of the seed from the commons and keep it for themselves. Terminator Technology, now in its developmental phase, would render seeds sterile, making it impossible for farmers to save seed and forcing users back to the seed companies for every new crop.

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Burl Hall is a retired counselor who is living in a Senior Citizen Housing apartment. Burl has one book to his credit, titled "Sophia's Web: A Passionate Call to Heal our Wounded Nature." For more information, search the book on Amazon. (more...)
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