Sunday, December 22, 2013

How to tell if your seeds are GMO

Some of the most often ask questions of us is:
 "How do we stay GMO free when many people around us maybe growing it ?" 

" How do we know if our seeds contain genetically modified material? " 

" How can we prevent our seeds from becoming contaminated with GMO traits ? " 

It's very difficult and expensive to test your seeds for the Monsanto Roundup ready gene. They believe that gene is so fantastic that they would be a fool not to include it in every genetic manipulation they do. You can use this against them, but you'll have to use your imagination and be a good food detective. First get a disposable seedtray and some soil and plant your seeds. Allow your seedlings to grow a few inches tall. Buy a Roundup ready spray bottle , yeah I know you're contributing to the monster but this is the cheapest way to find out. Or if you know somebody who already uses Roundup you can nic a little bit off of them if you ask them. Simply spray the seedlings with the Roundup ready spray ( or a comparable Glyphosate product ). If your seedlings die then that means that they arent round up ready . This of course does not test for the BT GMO Gene, which is a much more costly investigative process. But this also means that you've probably ruined the seed tray and a good spray bottle. You really haven't ruined it because you'll sadly need it down the road to test others seeds. So like a GMO version of Sherlock Holmes , retain these tools for future investigative work.  I have a small squirt bottle I use just to test my seeds in this process and you can too just don't confuse it with your general you spray bottles and seedling trays and keep them in a plastic garbage bag with a spray paint " skull and bones " on them like I do. 

With the BT GMO gene one would have to make an isolation tank  like 10 gallon aquarium. You would then have to collect insects that are known to eat the plants that you are testing. Grasshoppers are great for corn, soy and wheat btw . Tobacco hornworm is another that works .You would then put the seeds inside the aquarium and sprout them and once they are tall enough ,at least a few inches ,you would add the insects and close off the tank. If the insects eat and die they contain the BT GMO trait. If they don't eat and die this might still mean it still contains the BT GMO trait. Rumor has it some insects can detect the poison and won't eat from plants that contain it .You have to make sure you get the insects that eat the plants that you're sprouting. I did this one with some cotton seeds a friend had sent me, it worked but that means I rejected all the seeds. ( I destroyed the genetic material by tossing the seeds in my burn barrel ).the downside of this , if you can't keep a grasshopper alive for a few days in an aquarium without these test plants, you'll never be able to do it with it. 

Another way is to use conscientious sowing and harvesting. Know your crops and know your foods and plant accordingly. If all your neighbors are growing corn, GM modified corn, then probably you shouldn't plant your corn unless you want to corrupted it with the GM trait. One way of working this is to know your neighbors ,understand what they are growing and when they are growing it. I stagger all my corn plantings so that their crops can't possibly infect mine. Sometimes this means I'm growing corn when they are growing soybean. Sometimes this means I'm planting later when they're planting earlier. If you grow in a hoop house or polytunnell you can can control pollen drift this way as well. Understanding what your neighbors are doing will help you plan better in the future. Understanding what they do and how they do it allowed us to convince two farmers to get off the GMO teat .... This is just one benefit to the movement by opening up relations with those who use these dangerous products . It tough that we have to do things like this just to stay organic or to ensure that we are uncorrupted with their genetic material. 

Also understanding what kind of crops these guys are manipulating is important. They are not currently manipulating horseradish, as for one example, so this means there is no GMO horseradish. The big guys target crops that sell a lot, because there is money to be made off. They don't want to target crops that people rarely eat they target stuff that people consume in large masses, because it's more lucrative for them. You can use this knowledge to helping your investigative work.
Garlic is grown mostly thru clones and not true fertilized seeds , by planting each clove you are planting exact duplicates of the plants you harvested . To date there is no GMO garlic . Cloning is another way for you to create a genetically uncorrupted plant but one that is filled it's own complications as well. A process if you have the time to investigate could prove very useful in your arsenal of tactics to remain GMO free

It used to be that the fantastic heirloom pepper " California Wonder "was one of the most popular heirlooms to grow. This pepper was grown and sold in supermarkets across the country and still is to this day because it is one of the greatest bell peppers out there. A very large plump fruit with a thick skin it worked extremely well when it came time to ship these. Unfortunately, drawn to the potential for profits, Monsanto has already patented a California wonder 300 . This now means that you can't  tell the difference between the California wonder and  the California wonder 300 because labeling is so in accurate here in America. They currently tell us that CW 300 isn't  in our produce sections that these are peppers that are grown for processed foods only. But this doesn't tell us if the CW 300 has crossed over into the non CW 300 . This is why labeling is important we need to know not only for food is genetically modified but we should be allowed to know if our food is patented. Some of these genetically modified produce will not provide viable seeds . This is the corporate way to stop seed saving. If you saved seeds from a pepper and if they didn't grow that might mean that it is a hybrid patented crop meant not to produce viable seeds. That of course is not the be-all, end all to that sort of argument. There could be many variables indicating why your seats didn't sprout . Hybrid sterile plants could be only one of those reasons as could poor plant husbandry on your part. 

Knowing your crops is just as important as knowing your neighbors crops because unfortunately when it comes to some crops they are all interlinked . I grow a particular type of heirloom pepper and I don't want cross contamination of this ( by gmo or any other heirloom or commercial grade pepper ). I grow it only when I know the peppers that others grow aren't going to infect mine. I have talked neighbors out of growing peppers just so I could grow mine and pay them with free peppers !  lol I also have the benefit of growing in multiple sites that allows me some sort of control. Knowing what my neighbors are growing is sometimes even more important than than knowing what in growing . 

One more word of caution: There is a lot of misinformation out there from both sides. Some people think every produce food in the supermarket isle is a genetically modified organism. This is untrue but scarily enough it could be our possible future. Investigate the plants are growing and find out what companies are doing GMO studies on them. The more popular the produce, The greater the range of profits , the chances are more likely take GM manipulation has happened or is happening. 

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