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What Hybrid Seeds Really Mean?

May 17, 2010

So everyone has had their arms in resistance against Monsanto’s seed donation to Haiti.  I went on the Monsanto website and took a look at their response, which was an explanation of what they are offering.  You can view their response by clicking here.

I am not an agriculture pro and so I asked someone who is about what these seeds really mean.  I am not sure how many of you understood the whole hybrid seed issue but I asked questions like are there good hybrids and bad ones?  What does this really mean…

Here’s the answer:

They are the same thing.  The thing with their hybrid seeds is that they will not go to seed.  For most.  I don’t know about all, but for most of the hybrids they design, Monsanto removes the seeds genetic ability to finish it’s life cycle and seed itself.  Since these hybrid plants cannot seed, they will not pass on any of the strengths learned through it’s life schedule, or it’s build up resistances to insects.  Each crop is a brand new crop, with no memory of the land, or what it will be facing when it sprouts.  Normally a seed will pass all this information on when it goes to seed, it is evolution. There is also the argument on the seeds needing aaaaaa llllooootttt of fertilizers, and super healthy soil, they are week seeds, but with the right amount of support, we can get veggies that nature has never seen before.

Any other ag folks want to weigh in with their expertise?  Please do for all of us who need guidance and understanding about what these seeds mean.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Toni McNulty permalink
    May 17, 2010 3:22 pm

    There has been quite a lot of discussion over at Haiti Rewired about this subject. A representative from Monsanto even commented. You can read the blog and comments at this link:

  2. Steve Rusch permalink
    May 17, 2010 5:59 pm

    Hi Regine,

    Phoebe’s dad, here… I check in at your website very frequently, having been to Haiti in January for a coupla weeks of high-tension helpin’ fly a bunch o’Kreyol speakin’ doctors, nurses and EMT’s from the states and into action.

    I’m not an ag person either, but I am a bit of a “foodie,” shopping Whole Foods for organic almost exclusively. And I read widely, especially on the internet for the sort of info that you just aren’t going to find in the mainstream media.

    Standard hybrids are the result of simple cross-pollination between varieties. You’ve doubtless seen the signs which serve as ads for these varieties posted alongside cornfields from coast to coast. This sort of thing could happen quite naturally. The tremendous number of different varieties of squash is a mostly all-natural phenomenon.

    GM, or genetically modified, refers to the implantation of genetic material in the lab, genetic material which could not be introduced by cross-pollination. For example, so called “golden rice”: no variety of rice is naturally yellow, but “golden rice” has had genetic material — possibly from corn — placed into the genetic code of the rice plant so that it will produce beta-carotene, or pro-vitamin A, which is yellow to orange depending upon the concentration, a color you see in many fruits and vegetables from cantelope to sweet potatoes. (It’s hidden in the dark green of certain green, leafy veggies like spinach.) The idea behind this was to create a variety of rice which would provide a modicum of beta-carotene to a large percentage of the world’s population, beta-carotene from which the human body can synthesize vitamin A, so as to prevent a widespread and easily preventable cause of blindness. (“Finished” vitamin A only occurs in foods of animal origin.)

    Sounds wonderfully miraculous, but I read once that the reality is that this rice provides too little beta-carotene for the purpose, and I don’t like to rely on a single source for such info.

    Another example of GM tinkering is so-called “Round Up Ready” corn. Round Up is a Monsanto herbicide, and Round Up Ready corn has been modified to be essentially unaffected by it. Thus, a farmer can plant this Monsanto seed and apply this Monsanto herbicide with near abandon. Great business plan! But perhaps not so good for the environment.

    Problem is, it has been reported many times over the years that pollen from Round Up Ready corn is toxic to the caterpillar of the once upbiquitous Monarch butterfly. As this news item has virtually disappeared from the news, and because there are other known contributing factors in the decline of the Monarch butterfly, I have to remain unconvinced, though I remain highly suspicious.

    I’m not up on any reported ill-effects of GM crops on humans, and it’s been a while since I last did some reading on the subject. But I believe that there are some credible reports of such things, and I have to remain “nervous” about the potential dangers of this sort of drastic genetic meddling, insofar as it produces results which would not happen naturally, and because we really don’t know what other genetic changes might accompany the desired change of trait.

    For example, there are many proteins which ain’t good for humans — pigs can eat acorns, but we can’t — and what if such a protein were to be produced in a plant as an unintended consequence of genetic modification?

    In any event, I’m quite convinced that we don’t need any of this genetic meddling. Sound organic farming practices, and proper organization, management and distribution would be sufficient. The planet actually DOES grow enough food to feed everbody we got, yes, EVERBODY 🙂

    I think “we” are playing with things we don’t understand well enough, all in the name of profit, or worse…

    My principal concern regarding Monsanto’s seed research and development has to do with so-called “terminator seed” that your correspondent alludes to in your last post without mentioning its “popular” moniker.

    The info in the response is inaccurate. The seed in question produces a plant that does in fact go to seed, BUT THE SEED WILL NOT GERMINATE. In other words, the plant produces a food crop, BUT THE FARMER CANNOT RESERVE ANY SEED WITH WHICH TO PLANT THE NEXT SEASON’S CROP. It won’t grow nuthin’. The farmer thus can become dependent upon Monsanto for more seed, at whatever price Monsanto can command.

    Sounds purdy darn sinister to me, boy howdy!

    And there have been numerous reports of apparent willingness, or outright attempts, to use both food and water as “weapons,” that is, “you either control your population, you underdeveloped (read “undesirable,” or maybe even “black” ??)country, you, or we’ll control it for you.” There are also ever-more frequent reports of attempts to privatize water availability in many places.

    Now, if this sounds paranoid to you, just look around you: governments and arms manufacturers and “lending” institutions all around evidently experience no compunction when it comes to the loss of life occasioned by offensive wars. Thus, we must conclude that there are those capable of doing so who would do so. Kill people, that is.

    (Education and economic prosperity have been shown to be highly effective in lowering birth rates in “overpopulated” areas entirely without the imposition of “birth control” programs, some of which have been involuntary and unbeknownst to the affected, and without jerkin’ their food supply around or killin’ ’em outright. I mean, really! My indignation knows no bounds on this score.)

    And what, finally, have been the benefits to Haiti of the agricultural policies imposed thereupon by foreign interests? A history which includes not one single positive, true benefit (not to my knowledge) leaves me highly suspicious of motives in the first place.

    Moreover — not to go on too long here, but — consider the case of the Canadian farmer who wished to have nothing to do with GM crops, whose crops were contaminated by Monsanto’s extensive experimental plantings nearby. When he sued, Monsanto counter-sued, claiming patent infringement. (!!!!!) Is that not balls! Who won? Wouldja believe… Monsanto?… (I’ve run out of exclamation points.)

    All that said, I certainly don’t know exactly what hybrids Monsanto saw fit to donate. But I think you catch my drift: where Monsanto is involved, BE HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS.

    Cheers, and you keep on doin’ what you doin’!! Thank You,

    Steve Rusch

    • May 17, 2010 10:07 pm

      Thanks for the reply Steve, and thank you all for contributing. I think its really important that folks understand what these seeds mean. We have another future problem on our hands. First it was the pigs, than the rice, and now the seeds! I was, at first, raving mad and then I realized that I didn’t fully understand what these seeds really mean. Monsanto paints them as being a gracious act of kindness in their response on their website.

      Now the next question is how do we combat these seeds? How do we educate our farmers and families about what these seeds really are?

      When the repercussions of these seeds finally hit, who will be responsible? I wonder what health issues result from such seeds? Will the health of Haitians begin to decline even further due to modern diseases?

      Answers anyone?

  3. atibon permalink
    May 17, 2010 8:11 pm

    Well said Steve!

  4. Jean Baton permalink
    May 19, 2010 1:48 am

    Please watch “The World According to Monsanto” on YouTube
    – Heath issues
    – Cross-Pollination will make the native crops in Haiti will after a few years will bare the genetic signature of Monsanto’s crop. And possibly make the native crops sterile.

  5. Sally permalink
    May 19, 2010 2:49 am

    I hate to comment when I can’t offer a solution, but I think that nothing short of a large scale revolution will get rid of Monsanto. Obama is trying to appoint Kagan who has ruled in favor of Monsanto before, SCJ Clarence Thomas used to work Monsanto…they are a massive force. I feel very strongly that everyone should “revolt” against Monsanto by educating themselves and other, fighting back by making educated choices, writing letters to their congressmen/women, and talking about it. The thought of Momsanto donating seed to Hayti makes me very sad. It’s just another sort of control and oppression in the long run. So we have to spread the word, focus on supporting local farming and farmers in Haiti who use and plant what belongs in Haiti…not some invention created in a lab to help line the pockets of another corporation. I trust Mother Nature with Haiti’s land and people, not Monsanto.

  6. Nathan permalink
    May 28, 2010 10:00 pm

    It comes down to dependence. Free seeds are nice because they’ll make one crop (food). But the farmer can’t get any seeds to use for future crops. Then what? Buy more seeds from Monsanto? Not off an Haitian income. Monsanto has a plan this has been exhibited worldwide time and again. They might even give more than one crops-worth of seeds, just to be sure and get them hooked.

    It’d take a lot of foresight on the farmer’s part to keep seeds until after Monsanto’s generosity runs dry. Myself not being a farmer (but having taken some sustainable agriculture classes at the premier university on the topic, University of California Santa Cruz – check out Stephen Gliesmann) I don’t know how long a famer could keep seeds.

    Haiti’s seeds might already be gone. I recall news articles just before the April 2008 food riots that said people were so hungry farmers resorted to eating seeds (and/or selling them for food). So when it came to planting season they had nothing to put in the ground.

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