The new Monsanto Technology Use Agreement (TUA) indicates that purchasers of Roundup Ready Alfalfa seeds are not allowed to sprout them. When I read that, the first thing that popped into my mind was – why? Here is the section, taken straight from the 2010 agreement:
We know that Monsanto doesn’t allow farmers to save seeds, but no sprouting? What could the reason be for that little caveat? We also know that any agreement made with Monsanto is one-sided. In other words, Monsanto creates its agreements to cover Monsanto’s assets. It’s a liability issue. We tell you what to do, and if you don’t do it, then we can either sue you or absolve ourselves of any responsibility if you do not follow the instructions in the TUA to the letter.
So, why no sprouting?
The ‘no sprouting’ clause in the TUA begs the following questions:
- Is it more dangerous to eat GM Alfalfa sprouts than the grown plants?
- If so, why?
- Are Monsanto lawyers worried that a sprout has too much transgenic material in it that could be more easily detected in the gut than the grown plant?
- If so, is Monsanto simply covering its assets in the event that toxic GM seeds are used for sprouting?
Transgenic Concentration or Toxic Coating?
Sprouts are considered a super-food, higher in nutrients than fully grown plants, and contain concentrated amounts of plant compounds and proteins.
Alfalfa sprouts are what people typically think of when you mention sprouts. They are the ones you commonly see at a salad bar. Rich in phytochemicals, they protect against cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and fibrocystic breast disease. They stimulate natural killer cell activity, which strengthens the immune system. What’s more, they are beneficial in reducing symptoms of PMS and menopause, including hot flashes. Furthermore, they contain high concentrations of antioxidants, the body’s defense against the destruction of DNA which is the cause of aging. Alfalfa sprouts are abundant sources of vitamins A, B, C, E and K, the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Also carotene, chlorophyll, amino acids and trace elements. They contain 35% protein. One pound of alfalfa seed produces 10-14 pounds of sprouts. LINK
Is transgenic material more concentrated and potent in the seedling also? Only more testing will tell. But wait, according to the Monsanto Technology Use Agreement, no independent testing is allowed, so, at this point, only Monsanto knows.
Or, are all of the GM Alfalfa seeds Monsanto produces coated with some strong and nasty chemical to protect the “weakling” in the soil during sprouting and during the first delicate growth, and that’s why the no sprouting caveat? If the alfalfa seed is treated with a toxic fungicide, it would be dangerous to eat the sprout, because of the extra chemicals.
According to Kurt at Forage Genetics, the U.S. DOES NOT produce any Alfalfa for human consumption. He also stated that coatings are comprised of inert ingredients, and therefore the ingredients do not have to be labeled. This would explain why All Advantage seed coatings does not provide a list of ingredients in the product brochure, and when asked for a list, the company representative would not provide one. Evidently, these seed coatings are used to facilitate the application of other substances to the seeds, with no ingredient labeling required:
ALL-VANTAGE® is an advanced seed coating system for superior application of legume inoculants, fungicides, seed coloring, nutrient packages and other seed enhancements to promote better stand establishment of legumes, grasses, brassicas and other species.
Kurt also stated that seed treatments are different than the coatings, and are usually comprised of fungicides, with Bayer Crop Science being the largest manufacturer, and the suppliers provide seeds with these coatings and/or treatments. The treatments can be toxic.
But are all Alfalfa seeds in the U.S. treated with toxic substances, and is all Alfalfa that is produced for human consumption in the U.S. grown in Canada? The answer to both questions is, NO!
I contacted Lisa from Mumms Sprouting Seeds in Canada and asked her if she obtains any organic Alfalfa sprouting seeds from the U.S., and she said yes. She stated that Canada had a problem with its Alfalfa crop one year, so the company purchased its organic Alfalfa seed inventory from the U.S.. I then contacted Bob at Park Seed, to find out where his conventional Alfalfa sprouting seeds come from. He verified that his Alfalfa sprouting seeds come from U.S. suppliers. The truth is, not all U.S. Alfalfa seeds are coated with fungicides or other toxic chemicals, and the U.S. DOES produce Alfalfa for human consumption.
I also contacted Janice Person of Monsanto, and asked her why the TUA said “no sprouting.” She told me that Alfalfa sprouting seeds are different than the seeds used for hay. According to experts in the field – Lisa Mumm of Mumms’s Seeds, Bob, horticulturist from Park Seed, and Phil Geertson, professional Alfalfa seed grower, there is NO DIFFERENCE between Alfalfa seeds used for hay and those used for sprouting, as Janice from Monsanto claimed, except for the coating and/or treatments. Alfalfa sprouting seeds can have no such coatings and/or treatments.
So, why are Monsanto and Forage Genetics handing out false information such as ‘sprouting and hay growing seeds are different,’ and ‘the U.S. does not grow Alfalfa seeds for human consumption?’ And why does the TUA agreement specifically state that Monsanto/Forage Genetics GM Alfalfa seeds are not to be used for sprouting if we know that without the added coating and/or treatments, they are supposed to be the same as conventional Alfalfa seeds? Individual suppliers put the coatings and/or treatments on the seeds they sell, not Monsanto/Forage Genetics, so we can rule out the coatings and/or treatments having anything to do with the TUA stipulation, because the agreement applies to all Monsanto/Forage Genetics GMO Alfalfa seeds, not just the treated ones sold by suppliers.
This leaves us with the issue of transgenic concentration. Let’s explore the issue of why Monsanto just might be concerned with this, with the the following understanding:
We know from past experience that Monsanto doesn’t give a rodent’s patoot about you or me. Just ask the people of Anniston, Alabama. The company wants to dominate our food supply. Whether we live, die, or get sick is of no consequence, so any caveat in the contract would be there to cover Monsanto’s assets, and not to actually protect the public, but to advance it’s monopoly.
If GMO sprouts are even more virilent than the grown plants, with a concentrated form of the transgenic material, it stands to reason that instances of sterility, reproductive problems, and organ atrophy, which have been found in independent testing on GMOs, would be more prevalent and quite possibly more easily traced to the consumption of GM food. The caveat of “don’t sprout” would be necessary to cover Monsanto’s legal behind in the event that cause and effect is directly proven between human consumption of GMOs and health. It is a matter of timing. The more virulent and concentrated the transgenic material, the more it will affect health, spread to other bacteria, recombine with other viruses, grow exponentially, and quite possibly shorten the time between cause and effect, making it easier to prove that GMOs are the cause of certain illnesses, which would leave Monsanto open to liability. The “no sprouting” caveat closes that legal loophole. If you get sick from eating GM Alfalfa sprouts, it’s not our fault, we told you not to sprout.
© 2011 Barbara H. Peterson