In 2005, Monsanto acquired the seed company Seminis for $1.4 billion in cash, rocketing Monsanto past rival DuPont (Pioneer Seed), which made Monsanto the world’s largest seed company by placing them first in vegetables and fruits, second in agronomic crops, and the world’s third largest agrochemical company.
As the seed activist group, Organic Seed Alliance, pointed out over 8 years ago, Monsanto’s purchase of Seminis received little attention from mainstream media.
Because at the time, Seminis controlled “40 percent of the U.S. vegetable seed market and 20 percent of the world market—supplying the genetics for 55 percent of the lettuce on U.S. supermarket shelves, 75 percent of the tomatoes, and 85 percent of the peppers, with strong holdings in beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and peas.”
Not only did Seminis supply large industrial companies whose production focused on supermarkets, but Seminis seeds are also widely used by regional conventional and organic farmers as well as market and home gardeners.
“Johnny’s, Territorial, Fedco, Nichol’s, Rupp, Osborne, Snow, and Stokes are among the dozens of commercial and garden seed catalogs that carry the more than 3,500 varieties that comprise Seminis’ offerings. This includes dozens of All-American Selections and an increasing number of varieties licensed to third parties for certified organic seed production.”
When asked for his perspective on the Monsanto acquisition in 2005, plant breeder Frank Morton said, “There is a direct threat to our food system when we have a preponderance of genetic resources controlled by institutions whose only goal is profit.”
Morton went on to contrast the 2005 seed situation with the past: “When these services [breeding and production] were diffused among many individuals and groups with diverse motives, we had a much more diverse and healthy food system.”
In 2010, Monsanto’s seed industry monopoly prompted soybean and other farmers to form the National Family Farm Coalition to combat the spread of genetically engineered crops. The coalition helped file a class action lawsuit against Monsanto and other seed companies, accusing the firms of trying to monopolize the seed trade with patented crops.
Writing for The Healthy Home Economist, Sarah astutely points out that the growing number of gardening enthusiasts choosing to plant gardens using organic and/or heirloom seeds don’t realize Monsanto’s ubiquitous presence in the seed industry.
“This means that a home gardener could unknowingly be supporting the development and proliferation of genetically modified crops if the seeds used are from Seminis. In addition, Monsanto now apparently owns many of the names of the seed varieties themselves!”
Sarah notes that because Monsanto has shrewdly positioned itself to profit from the home gardening trend, even if consumers buy certified organic or heirloom seeds from what they believe is an independent company, some purchases might be supporting GMO titans like Monsanto.
Sarah’s associate, an avid food researcher, has compiled a four step course of action for buying seeds and seedlings for your home garden to ensure buyers are not unwittingly supporting Monsanto.
The information is current with updated listings for the 2013 growing season.
1) Avoid this list of seed companies affiliated with Monsanto:
- Anderson’s Seed & Garden, Inc
- Ball Horticultural Company
- Brett Johnson
- Bunton Seed
- Corona Seeds
- David Phillips
- DeBruyn Seed Company, Inc.
- Earl May Seed & Nursery L.C.
- Early’s Farm & Garden Centre
- El Seed
- Farmer Seed & Nursery
- Fukuda Seed Store
- Garden Trends, Inc.d/b/a Harris Seeds
- Germania Seed Company
- Grimes Horticulture
- H.F. Michell Company
- Meyer Seed Co of Baltimore, Inc
- Mountain Valley Seed Inc.
- Ontario Seed
- Ornamental Edibles
- Otis S. Twilley Seed Co., Inc.
- P. L. Rohrer & Bro., Inc.
- Paul Skalitzky
- Southern States Cooperative, Incorporated
- T & T Seeds, LTD.
- The Page Seed Company
- Tomato Growers Supply Company
- Vis Seed Company, Inc.
2) Buy from this list of companies Monsanto HASN’T bought and are not affiliated or do business with Seminis:
- *Adaptive Seeds
- All Good Things Organic (SW)
- *Amishland Seeds
- Annapolis Valley Heritage Seed Company
- Annie’s Heirloom Seeds
- *The Ark Institute
- Backyard Beans and Grains Project
- *Baker Creek Seed Co. (MW)
- Beauty Beyond Belief (BBB Seeds)
- *Botanical Interests
- Bountiful Gardens
- Diane’s Flower Seeds (she has veggies now, too)
- *Family Farmer’s Seed Co-op
- *Fedco Seed Co.
- Garden City Seeds
- Gourmet Seed
- *Grow Organic
- Heirlooms Evermore Seeds
- *Heirloom Seeds
- Heirloom Solutions
- High Mowing Seeds
- *Horizon Herbs
- Hudson Valley Seed Library
- Ed Hume Seeds
- J.L Hudson
- Kitchen Garden Seeds
- Knapp’s Fresh Vegies
- Kusa Seed Society
- Lake Valley Seeds
- *Landreth Seeds
- Larner Seeds
- *The Living Seed Company
- *Livingston Seeds
- Local Harvest
- Moonlight Micro Farm
- Mountain Rose Herbs
- *My Patriot Supply
- Native Seeds for the Arid Southwest
- Natural Gardening Company
- New Hope Seed Company
- Nichol’s Garden Nursery
- *Organica Seed
- Organic Sanctuary (SE)
- Peace Seeds
- Peaceful Valley Farm Supply
- Prairie Road Garden
- Renee’s Garden
- Restoration Seeds
- Sand Hill Preservation Center
- Sage Thymes
- *Seed for Security
- Seeds Trust
- *Select Seeds
- Siskiyou Seeds (NW)
- *Southern Exposure
- *Sow True (SE)
- *Sustainable Seed Co
- Tiny Seeds
- Tomato Fest
- Trees of Antiquity
- Turtle Tree Seed
- *Underwood Garden Seeds
- *Uprising Seeds
- *Victory Seeds
- White Harvest Seed
- *Wild Garden Seeds
- Wildseed Farms
- *Wood Prairie Farm (NE)
Canadian Seed Companies:
- Brother Nature
- Cubit’s Organics
- Greta’s Organic Garden
- Heritage Harvest Seeds (ships to Canada only)
- Richters Herbs
- Salt Spring Seeds
- Seeds of Victoria
- Solana Seeds
- Stellar Seeds
- Terra Edibles
- The Cottage Gardener
- Seed Site (Italy)
- The Real Seed Catalogue (UK)
3) Avoid certain heirloom varieties because Monsanto now apparently owns the names. This article lists the seed varieties to avoid:
4) Ask seed companies if they have taken the Safe Seed Pledge. Here’s a list of companies that have done so.
Fritz Kreiss, the founding head of Occupy Monsanto, has provided a list of Seminis/Monsanto home-garden vegetable variations.
Kreiss claims it’s best to buy directly from seed farmers and companies that you can trust (you can find many of them here).
According to Kreiss, the seed varieties obtained as “heirlooms” from heirloom or organic seed companies are “NOT” GMO seeds, even though they are officially “owned” by Monsanto.
And Kreiss believes the only GMO vegetable seeds available for sale today are new hybrid varieties of zucchini and summer squash, so he advises consumers to be sure they order these from certified organic suppliers.
Monsanto only owns the trademark names for these “heirloom” varieties. This strategic move holds two advantages for Monsanto:
1.) Prevents new companies from naming new varieties with these or very similar names.
2.) An effort to stop lucrative sales by these other companies trying to leverage the heirloom name and consumer loyalty for those heirloom varieties.
Avoid These Seminis/Monsanto Seed Varieties
Beans: Aliconte, Brio, Bronco, Cadillac, Ebro, Etna, Eureka, Festina, Gina, Goldmine, Goldenchild, Labrador, Lynx, Magnum, Matador, Spartacus, Storm, Strike, Stringless Blue Lake 7, Tapia, Tema
Broccoli: Coronado Crown, Major, Packman
Cabbage: Atlantis, Golden Acre, Headstart, Platinum Dynasty, Red Dynasty
Carrot: Bilbo, Envy, Forto, Juliana, Karina, Koroda PS, Royal Chantenay, Sweetness III
Cauliflower: Cheddar, Minuteman
Cucumber: Babylon, Cool Breeze Imp., Dasher II, Emporator, Eureka, Fanfare HG, Marketmore 76, Mathilde, Moctezuma, Orient Express II, Peal, Poinsett 76, Salad Bush, Sweet Slice, Sweet Success PS, Talladega
Eggplant: Black Beauty, Fairytale, Gretel, Hansel, Lavender Touch, Twinkle, White Lightening
Hot Pepper: Anaheim TMR 23, Ancho Saint Martin, Big Bomb, Big Chile brand of Sahuaro, Caribbean Red, Cayenne Large Red Thick, Chichen Itza, Chichimeca, Corcel, Garden Salsa SG, Habanero, Holy Mole brand of Salvatierro, Hungarian Yellow Wax Hot, Ixtapa X3R, Lapid, Mariachi brand of Rio de Oro, Mesilla, Milta, Mucho Nacho brand of Grande, Nainari, Serrano del Sol brand of Tuxtlas, Super Chile, Tam Vera Cruz
Lettuce: Braveheart, Conquistador
Melon: Early Dew, Sante Fe, Saturno
Onion: Candy, Cannonball, Century, Red Zeppelin, Savannah Sweet, Sierra Blanca, Sterling, Vision
Pumpkin: Applachian, Harvest Moon, Jamboree HG, Orange Smoothie, Phantom, Prize Winner, Rumbo, Snackface, Spirit, Spooktacular, Trickster
Squash: Ambassador, Canesi, Clarita, Commander, Dixie, Early Butternut, Gold Rush, Grey Zucchini, Greyzini, Lolita, Papaya Pear, Peter Pan, Portofino, President, Richgreen Hybrid Zucchini, Storr’s Green, Sungreen, Sunny Delight, Taybelle PM
Sweet Corn: Devotion, Fantasia, Merit, Obession, Passion, Temptation
Sweet Pepper: Baron, Bell Boy, Big Bertha PS, Biscayne, Blushing Beauty, Bounty, California Wonder 300, Camelot, Capistrano, Cherry Pick, Chocolate Beauty, Corno Verde, Cubanelle W, Dumpling brand of Pritavit, Early Sunsation, Flexum, Fooled You brand of Dulce, Giant Marconi, Gypsy, Jumper, Key West, King Arthur, North Star, Orange Blaze, Pimiento Elite, Red Knight, Satsuma, Socrates, Super Heavyweight, Sweet Spot
Tomato: Amsterdam, Beefmaster, Betterboy, Big Beef, Burpee’s Big Boy, Caramba, Celebrity, Cupid, Early Girl, Granny Smith, Health Kick, Husky Cherry Red, Jetsetter brand of Jack, Lemon Boy, Margharita, Margo, Marmande VF PS, Marmara, Patio, Phoenix, Poseidon 43, Roma VF, Royesta, Sun Sugar, Super Marzano, Sweet Baby Girl, Tiffany, Tye-Dye, Viva Italia, Yaqui
Watermelon: Apollo, Charleston Grey, Crimson Glory, Crimson Sweet, Eureka, Jade Star, Mickylee, Olympia
Note: Not all of the veggie varieties in the above list are Monsanto/Seminis exclusives. Consequently if you spot some of these varieties in the catalog of an heirloom seed-seller, just check with the seller to make sure the seeds were not purchased from Seminis/Monsanto. But if you find these seeds on a rack at a big-box garden center, you have every right to suspect they were purchased from the evil empire.
March 12th, 2013