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GMO versus Non-GMO Garden Seeds 

Tree Branch

There's a lot of confusion about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) versus non-GMO seeds. Are GMO seeds good or bad? Is there really a difference? This is a "hot topic" for home gardeners, and people who want to make sure the food they eat is absolutely healthy.

First, let's define the two terms as it relates to garden seeds:

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), sometimes called Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEO), are seeds that have been modified to alter the genetic makeup of the seeds. This is done to produce different genetic characteristics in the plant that ultimately grows from the seed. Examples of desirable traits include higher crop yield, greater plant disease resistance, or greater resistance to insects. Ultimately the intention is to make commercial production more efficient and productive, increasing crop yield per acre. Proponents argue GMO is essential to increase farm yield, to help feed the growing population on the planet.

Many home gardeners, and all organic gardeners, are concerned about the topic of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). After all, most home gardeners partake in the hobby to provide healthy food for themselves, their family, and friends. For those of us who are concerned, the only alternative is to grow non-GMO seeds.

Are GMO seeds bad?....Or good?

We leave this assessment is up to you..... the reader, the home gardener, and the consumer.

Here are a few pros and cons:

GMO can produce greater yields, and help to feed a hungry world.

They can reduce or eliminate the need for pesticides and fungicides. That means healthier food and less chemicals released to the environment.

Some people fear GMO can create new allergens in the foods we eat.

Some people argue that there is the potential for many unknown, long term, negative health effects.

Definition of GMO and Non-GMO:

Genetically Modified Organisms (abbreviated GMO) is any organism that has been modified or altered by use of genetic engineering techniques. This involves taking DNA molecules from different sources, and recombining them into a molecule to make a new set of genes.

A Genetically Engineered Organism is just another name for GMO.

GMO seeds have undergone genetic engineering techniques to produce certain plant traits, drought or disease tolerance.

Non-GMO Seeds are any seed that has not undergone genetic modification in a laboratory.

GMO Facts and Myths:

Cross Breeding seed varieties is not GMO. It is nature's way of producing new varieties. Cross breeding has occurred naturally since the garden of Eden. Through natural cross breeding, the pollen of one variety of a plant species pollinates the flower of another variety. Squash are good examples of this, resulting in many, many natural varieties of squash.

Hybrid seed are not GMO seed. The process of creating hybrid seeds uses controlled cross breeding of certain varieties.

Most home garden seed companies do not sell GMO seed.

Most GMO seeds are used in commercial farming.

Organic Heirloom seed varieties, by their very definition, are non-GMO seed.

Is produce grown from GMO seeds good or bad for you? Some people say yes, some people say no. Again, we won't endeavor to answer this question. If you are concerned in the least way, err on the side of caution and only use non-GMO seeds. Fortunately, that is pretty easy, as garden seed companies in general, offer only non-GMO seeds..... just what you want to grow.

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