Follow the money when you save seeds

From All the President’s Men:

Deep Throat: Follow the money.
Bob Woodward: What do you mean? Where?
Deep Throat: Oh, I can’t tell you that.
Bob Woodward: But you could tell me that.
Deep Throat: No, I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know, and I’ll confirm. I’ll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that’s all. Just… follow the money.

Mike over on Subsistence Pattern posted about Why Save Seeds?.   One of his readers commented about Johnny’s Seeds and Monsanto which I’ll reproduce here with Mike’s response.

vrtlarica ana said…

I did thought about freezing seeds, but I was worried that I would kill them that way. Thanks for this valuable information.

I have a comment regarding one of the seed companies you are mentioning. Johnny’s is reselling seeds from Seminis and the owner of Seminis is Monsanto. so that might not be most trusted source for seeds. I hope you don’t mind me writing this information here. I am looking for a very trusted source for seeds, so I have came across this information. For now I have complete trust in one Austrian seed company.

to which Mike responded:

Mr. H. said…

Vrtlarica ana – Thank you! It is very good to question things like this and I applaud you for doing so. As far as Johnny’s seed is concerned I was not aware of their affiliation with Seminis but having looked into it see that that they were doing business with Seminis well before Monsanto came along are are working towards phasing out the Seminis seeds. Their response to this can be read at

Here is another response from them on –

Jan 6, 2010 11:54 AM, Johnny’s Selected Seeds added:
Johnny’s is not affiliated with Monsanto. We carry 21 varieties of seeds from Seminis, which was bought by Monsanto. We are in the process of replacing all 21 varieties and will continue that effort as suitable replacements are found.

Ben Sturtevant, Public Relations
Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Anyways, this is an excellent example of why we should work towards saving our own seeds. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

So I did a bit more digging and came across Organic Seed Alliance’s very thoughtful and thought provoking take on the problem of the fox inside the chicken coop.  The article mentions that Fedco had been a buyer from Seminis to I decided to see how they responded.   Their response was the same as Johnny’s but far more pointed.  Towards the end of their response they ask the question, “Do you know where your seed comes from?”

This is an excellent question even if you are saving seed.  Where did you get the seed from originally?  A seed swap?   Hmmmmm.   A friend who is organic but not certified?   Hmmmmm.  Seeds of Diversity? Hmmmmm. Seed Savers Exchange? Hmmmmm.   A company which carries the Safe Seed Pledge .  Hmmmmm.

While Safe Seed Pledge is a great start,  it may not be a guarantee of  non GMO-seed: We pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. This brings me back to Fedco’s question.  Some companies are very transparent and answer the question before it is asked.  If a company doesn’t disclose where they get their seeds from, ask them.  Or stick with organic seeds. Look for the organic certification.  That means that the seeds are organic through all the hands that touch them before they get to you.  There are sellers that sell organic seeds but are not certified organic themselves.  Not being organic could mean that they are not fully familiar with organic requirements. It is possible that they might do  something inadvertently to the seed that compromises its organic nature.   If selling certified organic seeds is important to them, they should be asked why they aren’t certified organic.

But even certified organic is no guarantee as organic becomes a marketed brand, today’s Good Housekeeping Seal of  Approval. Maintaining organic standards is an ongoing problem with the corporate takeover of the “organic movement”.

So where does that leave you besides being confused?  Do it yourself.  Find a seed source that you trust,  buy your seed from them,  save your seed.

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2 Responses to Follow the money when you save seeds

  1. Mike says:

    Well, regardless of Fedco’s horrible packaging and customer service at least they are blunt about their thoughts on Seminis and Monsanto. Honestly, I guess I only trust myself at this point as how would one really know where a seed companies seeds came from. And yes, what does Organic even mean at this point in time? Hmm, interesting perspective.

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