A Lettuce By Any Other Name…

If you garden using conventional seeds, then you’ve probably experienced this problem that is described so eloquently here by Jerri Cook in Countryside. When choosing seeds from a catalog, you pick a lovely red leaf variety called Sheep’s Tongue in catalog A. A few days later, you see another red leaf variety in catalog B called Camel’s Tongue. You order this one, since you love experimenting with different types of vegetables, and you want your lettuce crop to last all summer. However, when you plant and begin to harvest your two types of lettuce, you notice that they grow, look, and taste exactly the same.  What’s up with that?

Well, here’s what probably happened. If catalog A has trademarked the name Sheep’s Tongue, then catalog B cannot call it the same thing. They can sell the exact same seeds, they simply have to call it a different name. So you, unknowingly, can buy and plant 2 sets of the exact same seeds. There’s not any way for us to detect that they are the same thing until we harvest our lettuce. Kind of tricky, right? If there are two of the exact same types of seed in two different companies, then obviously the original origin of the seeds is not one of these companies. This is confusing, I know, but unfortunately this is only the tip of the iceberg. 

No matter which conventional mail order catalog you choose to order your seeds, you are going to get the same ones. Catalog A, B, C, D, E, F, and so forth are likely all owned by the same parent company. The American nursery trade is a $39.6 billion a year industry. And Monsanto is now estimated to control between 85 and 90 percent of the U.S. nursery market, including fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide markets. 85 to 90 percent! They hold over 11 thousand seed patents. So even though Sheep’s Tongue Lettuce and Camel’s Tongue Lettuce are called 2 different things and came from 2 different retailers, the truth of the matter is that they probably both came from Monsanto.

Even worse, in my opinion, is a little 3-letter abbreviation that you may see listed next to seed selections in seed catalogs. PVP stands for Plant Variety Protection. When you see this, it means that is is actually ILLEGAL for you to save seeds from this plant variety for propagation purposes.

This is the part that really steams me. How is it right for a company to force you to continuously purchase seeds from them? This FORCES you, if you wish to grow PVP varieties, to purchase seeds year after year instead of simply saving them from your harvest. How can you put a patent on a seed or plant? How can you force farmers to live a life that is dependent on the whim of a gigantic corporation? How can you prevent someone from living a sustainable lifestyle, where it is possible and logical to buy seeds only once? How is this happening in the U.S??

Regardless of these questions, the fact of the matter is that this IS happening in the United States right now. Many companies, such as Greenpeace, have spoken out against Monsanto, claiming, “Monsanto-no food shall be grown that we don’t own.” Monsanto rakes in BILLIONS of dollars every year from across the globe with its plant, seed, and chemical technology.

The next step in Monsanto technology is the introduction of chemicals that will allow farmers to control the genetic traits of their plants. So for example, if your tomato plants begin to develop powdery mildew, you can purchase a chemical that, when applied to your tomato plants, will kick on their powdery mildew resistance gene. Of course, both the plants and the chemicals are all owned by Monsanto. I know it sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, but it’s not. To learn more about it, just Google “Monsanto Traitor technology.” It will seriously blow your mind.

How can you avoid this evil monopoly that is Monsanto? You must buy heirloom seeds from a reputable source. Don’t purchase plants or seeds from your local garden store. And don’t purchase conventional seeds from mail order catalogs or internet sites. Plant heirloom seeds, save seeds from your harvest, and plant again the next year. Find other people in your community who are like-minded and hold an annual heirloom seed swap. This is an excellent way to be introduced to new varieties of fruits and vegetables, and increase the diversity of your own seed supply. Don’t bow down to Monsanto. As long as you have the right to purchase and plant heirloom seeds that are not controlled by this evil giant, you should exercise that right.


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