I was at the Co-Opportunity the other day and ran into one of their extremely helpful and friendly staff members concerned about the seeds they sell being owned by Monsanto. This was in reference to the post about me unknowingly supporting Monsanto because of the seed company I support. After re-checking my sources and tracking through the genealogy of different seed companies it turns out that Botanical Interests is not owned by Monsanto. The bad news is that it is still quite confusing and often secretive as the owner of seed companies. Click the image below to can see the web Monsanto and others have weaved throughout the seed world through the years. We should ask ourselves how did this happen?
On June 16, 1980, the case of Diamond v. Chakrabarty cleared the supreme court for the patenting of life forms based of their genetic coding. 1,800 of these patents were instated following the ruling. Now chemical and pharmaceutical firms had a new interest in seed companies and began purchasing them. There were billions of dollars in mergers and acquisitions within a few years. There was little to no regulatory oversight paving the way for a majority ownership of plant genetics by a few multinational companies for the first time in history.
How have the seed companies protected themselves? In the mid-1990’s the first genetically modified crops were released. While seed companies were in favor of genetically engineered crops, there were also companies opposed to this idea. Unfortunately, the opposition was not widespread enough. Tom Stearns, president of High Mowing Organic Seeds, was opposed to the idea of genetically modifying plants started a movement of seed companies united and opposed to GMO. In 1999, Tom created the “Safe Seed Pledge” to send to nine seed companies across the United States to gain some momentum. The pledge was sent to every seed company in America and within the first month, 150 companies had signed on. As of 2011, nearly half of the seed companies in the United States have signed this pledge.
How do you protect yourself from GMO seeds and affliiated companies? Only buy seeds from companies listed at the Council For Responsible Genetics manager of the “Safe Seed Pledge.”
Most importantly, always vote with your wallet and verify the seed company before planting seed or seedlings in your garden. – GreenUp! Guy