By Perry Post

The Safe Seed Pledge – what is it?

It is a voluntary pledge companies may take if they wish to be recognized by the consuming public as a company who sells non-Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) seeds.

It is maintained by the Council for Responsible Genetics and can be found here: Council for Responsible Genetics.

It looks like this:

The Safe Seed Pledge:

“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, 

We pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants.

The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities.”

Wow, that seems like a great thing! The website even lists companies that have taken the pledge! This is sooo cool!

Back up a second…

Read that pledge again:

“We pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants.”

“…not knowingly…”  sounds suspiciously like a very large loop-hole.

So in theory, a company can sell GMO crops to the home gardener and declare, “Oops, sorry, I didn’t realize it was GMO. My bad,” with no repercussions.

An underlying assumption in the pledge is that the consumer is being protected from companies who would not “…wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities…” and yet the pledge allows some of the most questionable and seemingly corrupt agricultural corporations such as Monsanto to parade their products in the catalogs of the ‘ethical’ companies on the list. True, the seeds carried may not actually be GMO, but they are from a company that believes agricultural progress includes ever increasing doses of toxic chemicals applied to vast monoculture ecosystems that indebt, bankrupt, and destroy the health and livelihoods of people and communities sold on hopes of higher yields, for the goal of increasing profit margins. Ethical?

“They” have snuck right in and are selling their goods here in the midst of those taking the higher ethical ground. How? Where?

Seminis is a global seed conglomerate owned by Monsanto that supplies 40% of the vegetable seeds to home gardeners by supplying mail order seed companies.

Let’s take a quick look at the list of companies that have taken the Safe Seed Pledge.

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds:

Pumpkin=Spooktacular http://www.kitchengardenseeds.com/cgi-bin/catview.cgi?_fn=Product&_category=28 displayed in Seminis listing: http://us.seminis.com/products/pumpkin.asp

Tomato=Big Beef http://www.kitchengardenseeds.com/cgi-bin/catview.cgi?_fn=Product&_category=170 displayed in Seminis listing: http://us.seminis.com/products/fresh_market_tomatoes.asp

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Onion=Sierra Blanca http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-7772-sierra-blanca-f1.aspx displayed in Seminis listing: http://us.seminis.com/products/onion.asp

Tomato=Celebrity http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-7952-celebrity-f1.aspx displayed in Seminis listing: http://us.seminis.com/products/fresh_market_tomatoes.asp

New England Seed Company

Tomato=Celebrity http://www.neseed.com/Tomato_i_Celebrity_Hybrid_i_p/33000.htm displayed in Seminis listing: http://us.seminis.com/products/fresh_market_tomatoes.asp

Tomato=Big Beef http://www.neseed.com/Tomato_i_Big_Beef_Hybrid_i_p/32930.htm displayed in Seminis listing: http://us.seminis.com/products/fresh_market_tomatoes.asp

These three companies are just an example of what I found with a quick scroll through the list of companies who have taken the Safe Seed Pledge. They may not be selling GMO seeds, but if they were truly wishing to “…support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities…” they would not be purchasing their seed inventories from a company owned by the likes of Monsanto. Sound ethics dictates that companies cannot profess support for healthier soils and diverse agriculture on one hand, then go against that ideal in their own company business models.

Research the seed company you are buying from. Demand that they actually support the qualities that are important to you. Demand that they hold true to their pledge. Anything less and the pledge is merely the act of a sneaky company jumping onto an unregulated bandwagon for the sole purpose of misleading the customer with warm and fuzzy, but false, portrayals for the purpose of making a dollar.

Demand more.

It’s your dollar.

(C)2010 Perry Post

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