Friday, May 30, 2008

Seed: From biotech giants' patents and lobbying, to my thankfulness for local organic growers

According to Forbes, Monsanto spent $1.3M on lobbying, just in the first quarter of this year. They lobbied ''Congress, (the) White House, (the) US Trade Representative's office, (the) Federal Trade Commission'' and the ''Agriculture Department'' on ''farm bill provisions and biotechnology'' as well as ''organic standards, patent reform, theft of agricultural seeds, endangered species, timber, greenhouse gas emissions legislation, international trade, ethanol production'' and other things. The crazy thing is that $1.3M to them is spare change.

In other news... It seems the rush is now on
for companies to patent plant genes for crops that are tolerant of climate change. As biotech giants continue to buy up more and more seed companies, and farmers' and gardener
s' GMO-free options become increasingly scarce, somebody's going to be making a whole heap of money, and it's not gonna be farmers. The time to start saving organic seed is now; I'm putting it on my list of things I need to try out this season.

On a related note, I popped by my local organic health food store, True Food Organics, yesterday and noticed for the first time that they were selling seed. They were kinda buried behind some dried shiitake mushrooms at the back of the far end of the counter, so I'd never noticed them before. That sucks, since there were tomato, basil and pepper seeds I would have loved to have sown, but it's too late in the year now to start from scratch for those. So I picked up some lettuce seed (arugula, Jericho and Black Seeded Simpson) and beans (Contender green beans) from Hope Seeds, as well as some wax beans from Mapple Farms. I couldn't help but bemoan the small selection available; I sure as heck hope to have more luck at the Farmer's Market tomorrow. I wish I knew more local vegetable gardeners.


J said...

Don't you just love Monsanto? They are based here in St. Louis, Missouri, so unfortunately, most of the state has a fondness for Monsanto for obvious reasons, though there are some farmers who aren't that fond.

Climate tolerant GMO's? Interesting. I agree, we SHOULD begin saving seed, though I fear that too will become illegal. Anyone remeber the 'ol precautionary principle? I think we should probably use that when dealing with something so basic as food.

Bummer you can't plant tomatoes and peppers, but all those lettuces sound great. For some reason I've never had too good of luck with greens. I planted some chard this year, but I underpotted it and it got stunted, I think we're stuck with baby chard.

Keep us up to date on the garden's progress.

M said...

You'd mentioned that you're in Monsanto-land. I'm guessing that as a homegrown corporate citizen that the company employs a lot of people and pours money into the community in such a way that folks can't afford to be critical of them.

Although it's too late to start tomato or pepper plants from seed at this point, I can still transplant seedlings. I was lucky to find some heirloom "Brandywine" tomato seedlings and some organic jalapenos. I hope to find more tomorrow at the farmer's market. I'd hoped for plums and cherries, a couple of bells and some cayennes.

I planted some heirloom carrots tonight while thinning out and transplanting garlic. I'd meant to plant some bush beans, but spent hours double-digging a section of the garden and working leaf compost into it. Maybe the rain won't be an issue early tomorrow morning, so that I can get some beans and organic beets in. And the zucchini I started from organic seed.

I've had weird luck with greens. A few years ago, my spinach got obliterated by leaf miners. I've been reluctant to try it again, but will read up on it a bit over the next week.