GMOs, Hybrid, Heirloom & Organic, Whats behind a label?

I asked a friend to help me out with a guest blog post on a sometimes touchy subject. Bruce created the Facebook Groups Oklahoma Frugal Gardening and Oklahoma Plant Swap as well as being an Administrator on Oklahoma Gardening Network. I Constantly strive to provide good quality information to my customers on why we feed and grow the way we choose to. I love teaching others that healthy foods are not always expensive. To learn this, you have to sometimes look past those fancy taglines…like Organic. 

Remember when reading this article, he is specifically talking about garden seeds for the most part. There is plenty of hidden GMO issues with most grocery store foods containing canola, soy, and corn oils. The first step in affordable healthy foods is either growing it yourself or being able to ask your farmer these types of questions, just don’t get stuck on the terminology. Most of us are trying to grow in a way that replenishes land and body…we cant’ put a label on that, or the government will find a way to make us pay for that as well……

Blaze Baxter – Bad Baxter Farm

My name is Bruce Hopper and I’ve been gardening most of my life, but over the last several years I decided to break away from standard Ag driven gardening practices and started researching and questioning. A few may know me from some of the Oklahoma based gardening groups on Facebook and won’t be surprised at what I’m writing.

Recently, I was reading a Facebook post about CSA chickens and a few other poultry options being offered. One individual asked if it was organically grown which prompted the response by the OP, it’s beyond organic! That got me thinking about how some of the same things we see in the vegetable gardening world are very similar to what our small farm meat producers are faced with. We get questions all the time from
individuals that have been bombarded by all kinds of BS information. We see it in the grocery store, in the seed catalogs and pretty much everywhere we go. I won’t go into my usual tirade on how I feel about companies that use labels like non-
GMO, heirloom or organic.

Randy Fath

Let’s just take a step back and look at some of what is going on and maybe clear up some of the confusion. One misconception I’ll point out revolves around hybrid plant varieties. Hybrids are bred using two or more cultivars. They are not genetically modified using gene-splicing techniques. Several varieties have been around longer than many labeled as heirloom. Generally they are bred to promote disease resistance and increased production.

Now, let’s look at the term Heirloom? The definition has changed a few times down through the years, but the seed companies use a 50 year ruler to determine whether the label fits or not. I won’t waste a lot of time blowing holes or pointing out several I know of that are mislabeled, instead let’s focus on understanding the common link. Open Pollinated would be a much more accurate means of labeling and simply tells us we can save seed and grow them year after year.

no one cares

When it comes to genetically modified organisms in the seed industry, there is basically zero chance of anyone ever purchasing GMO vegetable seed. It simply isn’t possible unless you pay big money and sign a contract with one of the huge corporations that invest huge sums in producing GMO varieties. Now, grains, primarily corn, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat are a different story. Maintaining purity in all crops near GMO planted fields is an issue but with corn the biggest concern is because of the way it pollinates and that’s by air movement or wind. Viable pollen can travel to the neighbor’s field or even the next and contaminate someone else’s crop. Obviously there is more of a chance of this happening in highly developed agricultural areas.

If ever there was an argument to purchase wholesome foods from the small farms this is one of the best in my opinion. The main concern when it comes to soybeans, alfalfa and wheat is much of it is being sold as being Round-up ready. I won’t go too much into that one, simply because of lack of unbiased data sources when it comes to glyphosate. And being Round-up ready doesn’t always mean what it sounds like. The
term is often used to label plants that have been bred or modified to produce more insecticides. The issue with this is those insecticides kill beneficial insects right along with the pests and that’s a rabbit hole I chose not to go down. I could dive off into the various methods used in gene modification, but the one that is the most controversial is called trans-genesis which is done in a lab under extremely controlled conditions. It might surprise some to learn that the actual gene movement or transfer, using agro bacterium, which is a bacteria genus that occurs naturally in sweet potatoes. Gene modification using mutagens puts us more at risk, simply because many of the resulting plants or seeds are approved as organic and aren’t tested like they should be. Regardless which side a person takes on the GMO issue, the end result is higher production of food that is lower in nutritional value.

Joshua Lanzarini

Now let’s look at the term Organic? When the movement started years ago as a way to identify foods grown using more holistic methods, someone decided we had to have a standardized way of growing. The Organic Materials Review Institute or OMRI was formed and they put together the OMRI Approved List. Over time we’ve seen changes in what’s approved and what’s not and frankly I’m of the opinion it’s
borderline useless. It’s reached the point where money, politics and the ensuing corruption have ruined it. So, when I hear friends and other people use the term ‘beyond organic’ my respect level goes up and I realize there are others that see and recognize some of what I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time!

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