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Plant F-ing: Yo, Where My Genetically Modified Seeds At?

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via oldamericancentury.org
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It could be my laziness, my deeper interest in the distracting end-products of “Cocktail Gardening” and its logical basil-infused cocktail hour or the simple fact that almost no major or minor home garden seed companies advertise Genetically Modified Organism products, but I haven’t been able to find any GMO products in the local garden center aisles. I’ve really, really tried. In my last column I highlighted the uber-crunchy goodguys like Baker Creek and Seed Saver’s and Renee's Garden, but the villains are harder to find if you are in the market to buy. The title quote is inspired by recent UK-based research featured by author Jeffrey Smith during a Democracy Now interview with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales last week. It seems the Europeans are concerned about rodents that eat biotech crops having a few little side effects like shrunken testicles and a few other complications. Author Jeffrey Smith put’s it this way:

Dr. Arpad Pusztai was actually working on a $3 million grant from the U.K. government to figure out how to test for the safety of GMOs. And what he discovered quite accidentally is that genetically modified organisms are inherently unsafe. Within 10 days, his supposedly harmless GMO potatoes caused massive damage to rats—smaller brains, livers and testicles, partial atrophy of the liver, damaged immune system, etc. And what he discovered was it was the process, the generic process of genetic engineering, that was likely the cause of the problem. He went public with his concerns and was a hero.

Be warned, Mr. Assange’s Wikileaks even gets involved as it seems that our Government in the form of the former Ambassador to France and a few of our Senators have taken to pimping for US biotech firms in Europe. Your dear author, it seems is a fan of both Martha Stewart, Noam Chomsky and Mr. Assange. Deal with it.

In the US the biggest seed company in the world (It rhymes with Monsanto) focuses its domestic attentions on commercial growers. The home garden market is largely left alone. $1.79 seed packets are not the type of lucrative markets it so desires. The left half of Nebraska? That’s another story. So while this gardener not-so-secretly could covet a blue Dahlia as a result of some mad scientists evil handiwork, he’s not actually finding any GMO crops available for the backyard gardener.

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While the owner of the country’s largest home garden seed company, Burpee Seeds, George Ball Jr. has a publicly weird attitude towards GMO, “If the genetically modified organism was an issue with someone, it would be a low-level issue, as opposed to the pros and cons that drive people or prevent people from gardening,'' the company does not offer GMO seeds. The other big boys in the home garden market, Ferry Morse and Lilly Miller are GMO-free as well.

On the Tea Party/Survivalist end of the spectrum there is an general rejection of GMO as those waiting on the collapse of civilization have no desire for seeds with “terminator” genes. That is to say, the GMO seeds patented by Big Ag are engineered to be sterile and must be purchased each growing season. In a Mad Max future with no WalMarts GMO’s ain’t exactly sexy to the “Prepper” crowd.

In very strange parallel universes Teaparty Militiamen, my Mormon mom with her 24 months of food in the garage and the the average DIY, single-gear road bike-havin’ Echo Park hipster alike will find a whole new world of interest in the actually listenable doomsday Prepper Podcast. Composting, fermenting, canning and seed saving all are indexed topics. Who knew? Survivalist Seeds, with a pretty awesome collection of heirloom, open-pollinated bulk seed collections is a sponsor. Maybe at the end of the world I’ll do a review of their products.

Renee Shepherd of Renee's Garden seeds (also a pick of mine for you to plant in your LA garden) has a common sense approach that puts the matter to rest for now. In the seed trade, this is the hottest, most controversial' topic of the day. It is also on the minds of her customers: More and more are calling, mistakenly thinking genetic engineering has come to the home plot.

Well, that said, it seems there is no plot to invade you backyard Silver Lake farm with “Frankenseeds”. Unless you know otherwise. Best comment of the week wins a packet of yours truly grown, open pollinated Amaranth superfood seeds.

Have a gardening question for our in-house planting pro? Send it to editor@laist.com and, if we can get him to put down the seed p0rn, he might answer it in a post.