Recently Washington voters had the opportunity to vote on I-522, an initiative to require labeling of products incorporating GMOs. The initiative was narrowly defeated, thanks in no small part to the record-breaking amount of money spent by Monsanto and a dozen other large chemical and food corporations.
I don’t have any problem with the science of genetic manipulation. But it bothers me a great deal that in agriculture it has been used exclusively to increase corporate profits, at the expense of farmers, consumers, and the environment. None of the much-touted benefits such as tolerance of drought, improved nutritional content, or improved yields have actually materialized in the field. Instead, farmers find themselves locked into a system of expensive patented seed and ever-increasing application of fertilizers and pesticides. Moreover, Monsanto and other big players have been aggressively shutting down small independent seed companies and harassing farmers attempting to save seeds.
As consumers, we can vote with our dollars. And as gardeners, we can support those seed companies and organizations devoted to maintaining the diversity and availability of non-patented, open-pollinated varieties.
Seed Savers is one such organization. Not only do they maintain and distribute a wide variety of heirloom seeds; but more importantly, they enable backyard gardeners to exchange over 12,000 locally adapted and often little known varieties at a nominal cost.
We’ve been members of Seed Savers for a number of years. But today we finally became “listing members” by offering up some of our Oca tubers to other members. It feels good to be making a contribution, small as it may be.