What are GMOs
“A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.” – Non GMO Project
“Today, we can incorporate new genes from one species into a completely unrelated species through genetic engineering, optimizing agricultural performance or facilitating the production of valuable pharmaceutical substances. Crop plants, farm animals, and soil bacteria are some of the more prominent examples of organisms that have been subject to genetic engineering.” – Nature.com
“A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. The exact definition of a genetically modified organism and what constitutes genetic engineering varies, with the most common being an organism altered in a way that “does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination”. A wide variety of organisms have been genetically modified (GM), from animals to plants and microorganisms. Genes have been transferred within the same species, across species (creating transgenic organisms), and even across kingdoms. New genes can be introduced, or endogenous genes can be enhanced, altered, or knocked out.” – Wiki
Who is Bayer, Monsanto, Seminis, etc?
Bayer acquired Monsanto (an American agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation founded in 1901 -wiki) in 2018, who had acquired Seminis (the largest developer, grower and marketer of fruit and vegetable seeds in the world – wiki) in 2005. But Monsanto and Bayer had a history back to the 1950s, in a joint venture called Mobay, which was forced to separate due to a US DOJ anti-trust action.
Bayer has 3 subsidiaries (of which each has their own numerous subsidiaries): Pharmaceuticals (prescription medication), Consumer Health (non prescription medication and health products) and Crop Science, which is our main area of concern.
I’m going to pause here and note: To be against GMO isn’t just to avoid the seeds and products that are GMO, but to not support the companies that use or support GMO. It was easier when Monsanto was the top of the pile, but with Bayer holding – almost literally – our health in their hands, it’s become a lot harder. A large percentage of North Americans are alive due to modern medical science. Does that mean give up and accept the inevitable? No, it does not.
What is the problem with GMOs? Why should I care?
“The now-famous Bt corn controversy started with a laboratory study by Losey et al. (1999) in which the mortality of monarch larvae was reportedly higher when fed with milkweed (their natural food supply) covered in pollen from transgenic corn than when fed milkweed covered with pollen from regular corn. The report by Losey et al. was followed by another publication (Jesse & Obrycki, 2000) suggesting that natural levels of Bt corn pollen in the field were harmful to monarchs.” – Nature.com
“Most GMOs have been engineered to withstand the direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. However, new technologies are now being used to artificially develop other traits in plants, such as a resistance to browning in apples, and to create new organisms using synthetic biology. Despite biotech industry promises, there is no evidence that any of the GMOs currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit [….]
In the absence of credible independent long-term feeding studies, the safety of GMOs is unknown. Increasingly, citizens are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.” – Non GMO Project
More links to learn about GMOs, and why they are detrimental to humans and the planet
GMO Myths and Truths is a free and extremely detailed pdf-book, that, if you have the desire to read in full, will help shed any doubt that GEOs/GMOs exist solely for corporation profit, as one of the greatest and most harmful scams ever to be perpetuated by humans against other humans.
Food is less nutritious now, thanks to over farming, poor soil management, over population, etc, but don’t worry, the same company that was a major cause of modern harmful agricultural practices, is here to save the day.
Seed developers are beginning to course-correct, and its not just the boutique companies. Monsanto, one of the world’s biggest agricultural biotech companies, recently collaborated with Apio, Inc., to release Beneforté broccoli, which has two to three times the level of the phytonutrient glucoraphanin compared to ordinary broccoli. And they developed it the old-fashioned way, with Mendelian cross-breeding. Gardeners, meanwhile, can try one of Burpee’s Boost line of seeds with higher levels of nutrients such as carotenoids and vitamin C.
Beneforté Broccoli has a patent on it, so not only did Monsanto help cause the harm of the food supply, and profit from it, they’re profiting from the “fix” for it. It’s really quite ingenious, though diabolical. Mr Burns kind of evil, you know? But this is the company that created Agent Orange.
Our thoughts on GMO
There is no “smear campaign” against genetically modified organisms. The companies that have the patents on the seeds, herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals, and their stockholders, are the only people in the world that actually benefit from GMO. There is no big money behind “No GMO” but there are billions of dollars behind GMOs. The world does not need GMOs. Politics and terrorism force a lack of food on impoverished populations, not any actual lack of food.
In addition, GMOs actively and aggressively damage soil health by allowing GMO crops to grow too close together without supporting the surrounding environment of healthy bugs, accompanying plants, and microorganisms, while getting sprayed with mind boggling amounts of chemicals that the companies insist are safe. Soil nutrients are sucked away as crop rotation ceases to happen in a matter that truly makes the soil able to sustain life without serious input from humans other than water.
In regard to human and animal health, GMO crops are sprayed with extremely toxic herbicides and/or insecticides. Those chemicals get passed down to the consumer, because washing off the outer part of a plant does nothing to rid the contaminants inside that were introduces as it was growing. It is currently unknown, only speculated, how GMOs genetic changes might affect human and animal health, nor any connected ecosystems. But that kind of thing should have been tested and known before a single GMO crop ever made it into an outdoor field.
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. Read more on the Non GMO page.
- 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.
- 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, or even better, skip cotton and buy hemp whenever possible.
- 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.
Sources: Kimberton Whole Foods, Mother Jones, Treehugger
What about my garden? How can I buy GMO-free seeds?
For now – as of March, 2021, most home gardener seeds are still all no GMO. However, many of the companies that sell home gardener seeds and supplies, work with GMO companies. The goal is to not just keep GMOs out of your life, but to not support the companies that make their billions off of them.
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.
What seed companies work with GMO companies?
These are companies who currently, or at one time, work(ed) with a GMO company. If you think a company doesn’t belong here, contact us with information about the company’s seed and supplier practices. If they are supplied even in part by a GMO company, 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
About this page:
This page was originally created on Aug 8, 2008, with periodic then sporadic updates over the years. In 2020, we added information regarding Bayer’s taking over Monsanto, et al. In March 2021, the original information has been expanded upon and cleaned up to include new and relevant information, and to remove outdated and no longer valid information.
For this page, GMO = Genetically Engineered (GE or GEO) / Genetically Modified (GM or GMO) Organisms.