Although the science and technology behind genetic engineering was established by the late 1970s, it was not until 1980, when the government began allowing lifeforms to be patented, that corporations realized that they were sitting on a goldmine. Simply speaking, by manipulating the DNA of living things, calling these organisms unique, and protecting them with patents, the industry of biotechnology and the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was born. For the first time in the history of humankind, small groups of individuals had the potential to control the food supply of the whole planet.
With the protection of patents and vast storehouses of cash, proliferation of GMOs into agriculture and the food supply was not only inevitable, it was rapid. These same corporations are also very aggressive about protecting their power and wealth. This is done to the point that consumers have very little opportunity to actually know what is in the food they eat. As a 21st Century rule of thumb, if the food you are purchasing is processed and sold in a package, regardless of labels such as “natural,” you can assume it contains GMOs.
One way that concerned individuals have chosen to combat this issue is to take responsibility for at least a portion of their own personal food supply by gardening. By controlling the production of food from seed to table, uncertainty is eliminated. The weak link in this personal food production / gardening model is the actual starting point – the seed.
Enter the Safe Seed Pledge
Created in 1999 and managed by the Council for Responsible Genetics (CRG), the Safe Seed Pledge helps to connect non-GMO seed sellers with the growing number of concerned gardeners. The Pledge allows businesses and individuals to declare that they “do not knowingly buy, sell or trade genetically engineered seeds,” thus assuring consumers of their commitment.
CRG formally recognizes commercial vendors through its website online at http://bit.ly/1dAQAC4. They are encouraged to promote their commitment to the Pledge through their seed catalogs, websites and other marketing materials. So far, over 100 commercial seed sellers have joined this growing movement for agricultural sustainability.
By choosing to purchase your seeds from organizations that have promised to supply only non-GMO seeds, you are affirming the importance of their decision. Your support also ensures that you will have a source for non-GMO seeds the next time you plant a garden.
Mike Dunton is the founder of the Victory Seed Company and one of the early signers of the Safe Seed Pledge. The Victory Seed Company works to preserve rare, threatened, heirloom seeds and to make them available to home gardeners.