Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Heirloom seeds to Terminator seeds?

The whole of Seed Saving Exchange's seed collection is now part of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, an act that apparently gives biotech companies access to them so that they can make derivatives that they can then patent. This sounds alarming but I confess that I still don't understand how we could ever keep a biotech company from doing this in the first place.

Rather than rehash the whole thing, go to this post and read the letter from Seed Saving Exchange's founder Kent Whealy. It's a long letter full of ugly business but it is worth reading.
Now, I wonder how many of the heirloom vegetables I am growing fall into this.

One new thing I learned by reading Kent's letter is the concept of Terminator Seeds. The sci-fi geek in me perked up and I immediately pictured a tomato from the future sent back to kill my Brandywines! Seriously though, the concept of a Terminator Seed stinks of Big Business. A Terminator Seed is the seed from a plant that has been genetically modified to kill the embryo in the seed so that you and I cannot save the seed. Basically all the seeds in the plant are duds, blanks, sterile.

Another neat thing I learned about by reading the letter is the concept of Sacred Seeds. Apparently Native American nations have collections of seeds that have been preserved by them. Now these seeds are also part of this complicated Global Crop Diversity Trust deal.

Ok, so I am being a bit paranoid about this but don't underestimate the things that people will do for money. After all, this has happened before when genetically engineered pollen blew over to farmers' fields and then they got sued (this is alluded to in the letter). I'd hate to go to jail because I saved some seeds.

And you thought Blight was your only gardening problem!


  1. In the casae of terminator seeds, I wonder if the tomatoes are good for our health.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I just wonder how safe is it to use terminator seeds? and if it is at all possible to plant it side by side with heirloom seeds? Thanks.

    Heirloom Seeds

  3. When it comes to safety definetly it's safe to use but it won't preserve the seeds of your plants SO better not use it. Just enjoy your heirloom seeds in the garden, heirloom seeds are fun to take good care of in the garden.
    Heirloom Seeds