Sorting out the confusion of Hybrid, Open Pollinated, Heirloom and Genetically Modified Seeds.
What is an Heirloom?
There are some heated discussions about what defines an heirloom. Many believe an heirloom has some history to it, or that it has been grown for a certain amount of years to prove its worth. But the general consensus is that an heirloom has certainly been handed down through the years, passed down for the purpose of preservation. Heirlooms are open-pollinated. It has also been suggested that heirlooms are from varieties at least 50 years old. This too is open for debate.
What is Open-Pollinated?
Open pollinated means the seeds from the plant can be saved, grown again the following year and produce an exact replica of the plant the seeds came from. For instance, if you grow a certain kind of tomato, and you like its taste, size, and production, you are pretty much guaranteed the seeds from that tomato will reproduce closely to the original plant.
What is Hybridization?
In order for a plant to produce, it must be pollinated. Although hybridization can and does happen naturally, forced pollination is done by human intervention with the intent of producing a specific characteristic. Someone may cross two different varieties of a certain vegetable. A variety may be chosen for its resistance to frost, and another may be chosen for its disease resistance. The two are crossed in the hopes pf producing both desirable traits in the offspring.
What the problem with hybridization?
1. For one thing, hybridized plants are generally patented. You must buy new seeds every year if you want to keep growing that plant.
2. The seeds cannot be saved and replanted. You will hardly ever get a desirable result from them. They will be unpredictable.
3. Because cross-pollination can occur, a purely historical heirloom plant is in danger of being pollinated by a hybrid or genetically modified variety and it’s purity is lost. Not only is the original variety lost, but its history is gone and we are forced to accept the new one.
What is a Genetically Modified plant?
GMO (genetically modified organisms) are plants that have had their genetic material altered. An organism from a completely different species, like pig genes for instance, are inserted into the plant gene. The purpose here is to produce a plant resistant to certain factors like disease, weather, and even more horrifying PESTICIDE.
For instance, a genetically modified soybean has been produced with a bacterium resistant to pesticides. This means that plant can be sprayed with the pesticide and the chemical does its job to weeds but does not hurt the soybean. Farmers have jumped on this bandwagon like gangbusters. They weigh the cost of weed control against having to purchase new seed every year from the seed companies.
We will not go into the ethical ramifications about such practices, but will state that if this doesn’t alarm anyone, then there is something seriously wrong in the world!
Who benefits from Engineering?
Seed companies with the sole purpose of controlling the world’s food supply, specifically the seed to produce the food. Many do it under the guise of solving hunger or some other ridiculous reason. Plain and simple, it is all about money.