It is that time of year to start planning your gardens. I’m guessing many of you are already plowing through seed catalogs and browsing websites trying to determine what you will plan to grow this year.
So…you probably have heard the term Non-GMO by now…but what does it really mean? Furthermore, why should it matter?
“GMO” stands for “genetically modified organism.” It represents something that did not occur naturally. Such organisms are the result of genetic manipulation and engineering in some laboratory somewhere. The purposes of such research are to supposedly develop organisms which would be more resistant to disease, drought, and other challenges of growing and raising food. Other similar engineering is to allegedly boost nutrition or crop yields. However, there is much debate on whether genetically modified organisms live up to their claims, and there is growing research to suggest that they do not.1 Indeed, both sides are actively up in arms over this debate, and there are powerful information campaigns that have been launched from both positions. There is now enough information thrown out there to make anyone confused. Interestingly enough, Consumer Reports, a research company known to be non-profit and purposefully neutral in position, had this to say about concerns over GMO safety:
You may be surprised to know that the federal government has not mandated that genetically modified organisms be proved safe before they’re used in your food. But safety assessments are mandatory in other major developed countries, including China, Japan, and the countries of the European Union. Some animal studies suggest that GMOs may cause damage to the immune system, liver, and kidneys. “There hasn’t been enough research to determine whether GMOs are harmful to people,” says Michael Hansen, Ph.D., senior scientist at Consumers Union and an authority on genetic engineering. “But scientists around the world agree that GMOs have the potential to introduce allergens and create other unintended changes that may affect health.”2
The first sentence of that quote alone should be enough to give anyone a reason to pause.
It is this concern over consumer safety that has many of the public requesting for foods to be labeled if they include any GMO ingredients. In fact, a poll done by the New York Times indicates that the percentage of the public supporting GMO labeling is a staggering 93%.3 Many food manufactures are opposing any GMO labeling, but that just leads one to ask why shouldn’t the public have a right to know? Why would these corporations go to great lengths to hide the use of GMO’s? In truth, it appears that the primary purposes of GMO’s are to maximize corporate profit rather than any concern over consumer health.
You may be reading all of this and be saying to yourself, “Why should I care if the seeds I buy, store, and plan to use to feed myself and my family are Non-GMO or not? Isn’t any food better than no food in a survival or homesteading situation?” You would be right to question this. Of course any food is better than starvation. However, GMO’s have a nasty secret: they cannot be reproduced without the help of more genetic engineering. Those seeds reaped from any GMO foods which you have saved for a new crop? Forget it. Because of the genetic engineering involved, the seeds gathered from GMO’s will produce plants that will differ genetically from the crops which you would wish to reproduce. GMO’s behave like unstable hybrids, thus the resulting generations will revert back to the parent genetics used to create the seeds in the first place. At worst, the seeds could be sterile. This is because of what is known as “terminator” technology. This was developed and patented by GMO seed companies to ensure farmers would have to return to them year after year in order to purchase seeds. Due to public outcry, GMO companies have “promised” they would never use this technology, however they are still active in research and development of this “terminator” technology today.4 I don’t know about you, but I trust large corporations like I trust politicians. Hence, I can’t say I believe their “promises” to never implement this technology. In either case, if you had originally used GMO seeds and you wish to reproduce your current crops for each new growing season, your only choice is to return to buy from the source that had originally produced your first seeds. This presents a significant concern to anyone desiring to be self-sufficient, and it also illustrates the power over the global food supplies that GMO seed companies hold…and why they are fighting so hard to maintain it. The truth is if you desire to reliably grow food for yourself and for your family for more than one season, your seeds must be Non-GMO. That is why you should only use Non-GMO seeds for your survival and homestead gardens.
Thankfully, there are many Non-GMO seed suppliers out there. A quick web search will deliver many results. One of my personal favorite sources of Non-GMO seeds is SeedsNow. I was impressed enough by their selection and service that I become an affiliate. I have had very good experiences with other Non-GMO and heirloom seed suppliers as well. Whomever you choose, what is important is that you make sure the seeds that you are ordering for your survival and homestead gardens are indeed Non-GMO. That way, you would ensure your ability to be able to continually produce your own food if you were to ever find that doing so was necessary.
Best wishes on your growing season!!!