February 2020 Update
As I went through this page, checking information and links to see what’s changed over the years and updating content, I found something completely unsurprising but wholly depressing: The no-GMO/GEO science is solid, but doesn’t make much money, so it’s been easy for corporations to muddy the waters so much that it’s dizzying trying to work out who is what, when, how, and where.
I’ve been out of the loop for years, clearly.
Monsanto/Seminis is now Bayer (2018) and unless you literally live a fully off-grid life and have no or minor health problems, you can’t really avoid Bayer. The point of this page isn’t just to avoid GMO foods, but also to avoid supporting the companies that support GMO corporations. Which is getting difficult, but it’s not impossible.
(I had a headache within minutes of starting this research, fyi.)
So what is my plan here?
- Identify GMO crops in foods to avoid at the super market.
- Confirm that home garden seeds are still all no-GMO, even if they’re sold by questionable companies
- Determine what home garden seed companies still exist that have no links to GMO corporations
Pretty much the same as before. So here I go…
What is GMO/GEO?
A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. (wiki)
Why does it matter if seed has been genetically modified?
These books have excellent reviews at Amazon and go very in depth into the issues with Monsanto.
Links to read:
Center for Food Safety: Monsanto vs US Farmers Report
Google is also helpful here. Look for articles that give their references and links to other websites.
How do I avoid GMO/GEO in the grocery store and while eating out?
Look for the organic label, avoid processed foods.
There are 9 crops we can easily find all over the grocery store. There are other GMO/GEO crops, like alfalfa, that livestock eat.
- Canola oil – 90% or more canola oil is GMO, originally modified more normally from the Rapeseed crop, it was later genetically enginereed to resist Roundup poisoning. Products like Kirkland Canola Oil Cooking Spray have the Non-GMO Project sticker, but as you can see below*, it’s not a guarantee it’s safe.
- Corn – from the corn you eat off the cob or out of a can, to corn starch, to corn syrup, almost all non-organic corn in North America is GMO/GEO.
- Cotton – commonly used cottonseed oil and cellulose (a filler, though cellulose can also be wood pulp). Look for organic cotton – even walmart clothes are carrying the organic cotton label in many places.
- Papaya – unless it’s labeled organic, it’s probably GMO/GEO (>90% of non organic crops).
- Potatoes – a relatively new food to be weary of, Simplot has decided that letting you see your potato is rotting is bad for landfills, so their new White Russets don’t brown when they start to go bad.
- Soy – again, unless it’s labeled organic, it’s GMO/GEO.
- Sugar – specifically look for “Cane Sugar” – Sugar beets are almost all (>95%) GMO/GEO.
- Zucchini/Squash – more and more of these crops are being engineered to be resistant to viruses.
- Apples – Arctic Brand apples, another crop engineered not to brown so we don’t know when they’re going bad.
What about the Non-GMO Project?
The government doesn’t know. Even the Non-GMO Project doesn’t know. The waters have gotten so muddied since I started this page that even the word “safe” no longer means “safe”. 0
Who sells “safe seed” (not genetically modified/engineered)
When you’re researching a seed company, dialog should be happening. Ask them where their seeds come from. Oftentimes, companies that sell heirloom/heritage and/or wild seeds will very likely be safe, and as a bonus, are usually happy to talk about it. Read their “about us” pages, send them an email.
The following may be companies that sell only safe seed:
- Amishland Seeds
- Annapolis Valley Heritage Seed Company (Canada)
- Local Harvest
- Mountain Rose Herbs
- Rainbow Seeds (Canada)
- Uprising Seeds
- West Coast Seeds (Canada)
- Wildseed Farms
Please let me know if you have a US or Canadian safe seed company, or know of one to add.
What happened to the Council for Responsible Genetics and their “Safe Seed Pledge”?
I’m not finding what happened to CRG. Google and the internet wayback machine isn’t giving me any hints. That said, their “safe seed pledge” was a joke. Anyone could have signed it.
Now, who to avoid?
Added May 21, 2013 Please note: No home garden seed is GMO (for now) [Feb 2020: this still appears to be the case]. However, I want to make it clear that just because the seed is safe, doesn’t mean buying any seed from any company is a good idea. Many, many of the big companies are supplied by Bayer (Monsanto, etc), who sell both GMO/GEO and no-GMO/GEO seed. The seed you get may be safe, but by buying from companies who support GMO/GEO, you are supporting GMO/GEO yourself.
These are companies currently, or at one time, known to sell seeds from Bayer/Monsato/Seminis. If you think a company doesn’t belong here, contact us with information about the company’s seed practices. If they are supplied even in part by Bayer/Monsanto/Seminis, they won’t be moved to the safe seed list, even if they sell no GMO/GEO seed.
Anderson’s Seed & Garden, Inc
Ball Horticultural Company
Burpee – They admit to getting non-GMO seed from Seminis. As stated above, my goal is to in no way support GMO/GEO, therefore, they will stay on the avoid list.
DeBruyn Seed Company, Inc.
Dege Garden Center
Dixondale Farms/The Onion Patch
Earl May Seed
Early’s Farm & Garden Centre
E & R Seed Co
Farmer Seed & Nursery
Flower of the Month Club
Fukuda Seed Store
Germania Seed Co
Garden Trends, Inc.d/b/a Harris Seeds
Germania Seed Company
H.F. Michell Company
McClure and Zimmerman Quality Bulb Brokers
Meyer Seed Co of Baltimore, Inc
Mountain Valley Seed
Otis S. Twilley Seed Co., Inc.
Park’s Countryside Garden
P. L. Rohrer & Bro., Inc.
Rocky Mountain Seed Co
Roots and Rhizomes
Seeds for the World
Seymour’s Selected Seeds
Southern States Cooperative, Incorporated
Spring Hill Nurseries
Tomato Growers Supply
The Page Seed Company
The Vermont Bean Seed Company
Tomato Growers Supply Company
Vis Seed Company, Inc.
Willhite Seed Co.
William Dam Seeds