The Safe Seed Pledge

Genetically Modified Seeds
Genetically modified seeds have had their genetic material altered using genetic engineering techniques. The intent may be to create plants resistant to certain pests, herbicides or environmental conditions, to increase nutritional value or to enhance certain aesthetic traits, among other purposes.

There is some controversy surrounding genetic modification. Opponents cite the unknown negative side effects of the practice and the potential impact on the food chain, in addition to general disapproval of meddling with evolution. Organic farmers are concerned about pollen from GM plants reaching their crops. Genetically modified seeds are patented by the companies that develop them, and farmers can’t grow them without purchasing a license. Fresh seed must be purchased each year, because saving seeds of a patented plant is illegal. The largest seed developers drop open-pollinated and heirloom varieties, which can’t be patented, from their catalogs in favor of GM seeds they can own, meaning gardeners have trouble finding old-fashioned favorites. 

The Safe Seed Pledge
In response to the proliferation of genetically modified seeds, some seed distributors have signed the Safe Seed Pledge, which reads:

“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately people and communities.”

Here are some mail-order seed companies that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge:

Abundant Life Seeds

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Cubit’s Organics

Garden Medicinals and Culinaries

Golden Harvest Organics

Gourmet Seed International

Grandma’s Garden/Underwood Gardens

Granny’s Heirloom Seeds

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

John Scheeper’s Kitchen Garden Seeds

Heirloom Acres

High Mowing Organic Seeds

Native Seeds/SEARCH

New Hope Seed Company

Nichols Garden Nursery

Renee’s Garden Seeds

Richters Herb Specialists

Salt Spring Seeds

Seeds of Change

Seed Savers Exchange

Seeds Trust

Select Seeds Antique Flowers

Sky Fire Garden Seeds

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Sustainable Seed Company

Territorial Seed Company

The Thyme Garden

Victory Seed Company

West Coast Seeds

Wood Prairie Farm

Read a descriptive list of organic, non-organic, heirloom and modern seed suppliers

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