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Seeds vs. Plants
Spring is just around the corner. Many people start thinking about planting a garden. Dreaming about fragrant, flavorful tomatoes, mouthwateringly delicious sweet corn, and abundance of greens and herbs and more, all from their garden. For some, this thought process is accompanied by doodlings of garden plans, frantic searchings for last year’s crop rotation chart, or just dog-earing a few pages in the latest garden supply catalog.
Some folks will buy seeds. Some will buy plants. But are they, and you, thinking about the environmental and biological impact of the plants? Are you considering non-genetically modified (GMO-free) plants and seeds? If not, it’s time to consider making the switch. Yes, GMO-free can be more expensive. However, it comes with some important benefits.
Understanding the Safe Seed Pledge
But first I’d like to clarify. While organic seeds are great, and in some cases, depending on the crop, necessary, not all crops require it. What is of vital importance is the use of non-genetically modified seeds. In order to support a move away from GMOs, more companies are signing the Safe Seed Pledge. Created in 1999 it was started as a way for companies to share their position when it comes to genetically modified seeds. Companies who have signed the pledge, and there are over 70 at this point, pledge that their seeds are free of genetic modification. The Safe Seed Resource List can be found online at the Council for Responsible Genetics. At a minimum, safe seeds from companies who have signed the pledge should be what you’re looking for when choosing seeds. Here’s why:
- Seeds from genetically modified crops are often heavily sprayed with pesticides to keep down the weed population. This pesticide residue has a very sharp impact on the environment. Increased pesticide use appears to be reducing butterfly populations. It can also pollute the water and causes birth defects in water animals such as frogs and fish.
- The most common pesticide ingredient, glyphosate, is a chelating agent and binds with nutrients from the soil, effectively blocking them from the plants. With no nutrient uptake, that means less nutrition in your diet.
- New studies are showing a significant impact on human health and changes to DNA from exposure to pesticides.
- Seed crops spend more time in the ground that food crops, this increases the amount of pesticide potentially taken up into the seed and then passed on to you through the food grown from those seeds.
- Non-GMO crops and especially organic crops are often grown in healthier soil, creating a healthier end product.
- According to information found from the Institute for Responsible Technology, there are studies which show that animals ingesting GMO diets have organ damage and gastrointestinal issues as well as accelerated aging and infertility.
Starting Your Garden
Starting vegetables from seed doesn’t require a lot of room. Essentially you need a container of some kind, good quality dirt, safe seeds, water, and sunlight. The truth, however, is that many of us feel nervous about how to start a vegetable or herb garden from seed. We’ve gotten so far away from that habit that it seems foreign and perhaps a bit overwhelming. The following are good resources to get you started:
- Starting Seeds: How to Grow Healthy, Productive Vegetables, Herbs, and Flowers from Seed (Storey Basics)
- The New Seed Starters Handbook (Rodale Organic Gardening)
- Seed Starting Kit – Complete Supplies – 3 Mini Sturdy Greenhouse Trays with Dome fits on Windowsill, Fiber Soil Pods, Instructions. Indoor/Outdoor Gardening. Grow Herbs, Flowers, and Vegetables.
- 4-Tier Mini Greenhouse, Gardman R687 27″ Long x 18″ Wide x 63″ High
- Winjoy Grow Light, 30W LED Grow Lamp Bulbs Plant Lights Full Spectrum, Auto ON & Off with 3/6/12H Timer 5 Dimmable Levels Clip-On Desk Grow Lamp for Indoor Plants
While it’s certainly easier to plant vegetables are ready to go in the ground, you need to know what you’re getting. If you’re planning to start your garden from plants that someone else has sown from seed it would be a great idea to find out where the seeds originated and if they are part of the safe seed pledge program.
Koller, VJ, et al. Cytotoxic and DNA-damaging properties of glyphosate and Roundup in human-derived buccal epithelial cells. Arch Toxicol. 2012 May;86(5):805-13
Mertens, M, et al. Glyphosate, a chelating agent—relevant for ecological risk assessment?. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2018; 25(6): 5298–5317