What plants are GMOs?

HotHabaneroLady(7a Central MD)February 20, 2014

A Facebook friend has really made me think a lot more than I used to about genetically modified plants. I am pretty certain that 90% of what I am growing this year is not genetically modified (because I'm growing almost all old school heirlooms). But there are some plants I'd like to double check before I commit to growing them.

Does anyone know of a good way to determine whether a particular plant is genetically modified?


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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

The majority of soy, corn, canola, and sugar beets are all GMO. However, it is highly unlikely that a small home gardener would have GMO seeds, so you are correct, you are not going to be growing GMO seeds/plants. Anything organic is non gmo.

Here is a link that might be useful: What foods are GMO forum

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 10:26AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

First GMO research has only been done on a few crops. The only commonly grown vegetable crop that is even available to the home gardener in a possible GMO form is corn. And that is due to natural cross pollination/contamination.

Unfortunately 1 or 2 seed vendors have taken to advertising "all our seed is non-GMO" as if it was even possible to sell it. And that misleads the uninformed.

As for a "good way" to determine...? Sure, just look up the specific variety on any of the reputable seed info sources.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 11:54AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

What is the problem with GMOs ?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 12:02PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Cotton is also GMO. At this stage, the GMO commercial crops are mainly altered to resist a specific pest or disease, or "Round Up Ready", which means the farmer can spray the crop with Round Up to eliminate weeds while not killing the crop.

Some GMO tomatoes are being looked at for commercial production but are not available for the home gardener to buy.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 12:08PM
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HotHabaneroLady(7a Central MD)

I'm avoiding GMOs partly out of an arbitrary preference that has no other justification besides "because I want to."

But I also have concerns about biodiversity and how scarce some plants have become. I have a similar concern about hybrids. I grow heirlooms because I think it is a good idea just to make sure their existence is perpetuated. And I also worry about GMOs getting into the wild and contaminating other crops.

I also do not want to support the practices of companies like Monsanto. Some of my seed suppliers also supply farms, so it seems like at least a possibility that I could end up with some Monsanto GMO seeds in there.

I'm not very concerned about safety, but withholding information related to the issue is one of those Monsanto-esque practices that concern me.

And one key to my gardening practice is that I just really like to grow things off the beaten path. If it's the same variety of a plant that is commercially available in a supermarket, or even in a farmers market, then I go looking for alternatives because I think it's neat to have something just a little bit different. It's partly just for fun. And partly to give me foods that no one else has. And partly it helps out with doing a tiny bit to promote bio diversity. :)


    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 1:41PM
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Yeah. I like the term Non-gmo like strawberry preserves being GLUTEN free. I also like people who look for foods that are gluten free who have no allergy whatsoever to wheat.

People, at times, are so misinformed. Mendel, (father of genetics) himself, was genetically modifying pea plants when he wanted to get a desired trait.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 2:03PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Every time the subject of GMO comes up - and there are many discussion here on GW the search will pull up - the discussion always digresses into all sorts of wild claims and arguments and then hysteria. It is a hot button topic with many no matter how well or ill-informed they may be. So it pays to educate yourself on the issues using reliable sources.

So rather than us going off on the anti-Monsanto band wagon or into the many two-sided conspiracy theories out there, it is best to stick with your specific questions.

Are you growing:
sugar beets
Biotech VR Papaya
Biotech VR Squash Tug 2014
any peas that Mendel may have modified in his experiments

If not you are not growing GMO seeds.

How to determine if the seed you are growing is GMO? Look up the specific variety and read about it. It is legally required to be labeled as such on the packet (if you can find someone to sell it to you).

Some of my seed suppliers also supply farms, so it seems like at least a possibility that I could end up with some Monsanto GMO seeds in there.

How so? First, you are assuming the local farmers are growing GMO crops which is highly unlikely except for maybe corn. What are the dominant commercial farm crops grown in Maryland? Corn, soybeans, barley and winter wheat (per MD Ag Dept.) Are you growing any of those? Why not ask the vendor if he is selling GMO seeds?

Second, you are assuming the vendor would illegally sell any GMO seeds he might have to someone without a commercial license. If he is then you need to report him and find a new vendor.

Please people, evaluate your sources for this type of controversial info and read both sides for yourself. A friend on Facebook isn't any reputable source unless that friend also happens to have an advanced degree in the related subjects and works in the field. Otherwise all they are doing is passing on some of the hype they have read somewhere else.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 3:40PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

When it comes to GMO seeds there is a lot of hype, scare tactics, and misinformation about them. Especially on Facebook. I see stuff about them in gardening groups on there almost daily. It's important for each person to wade through all of that and get to the truth.

The truth is as Dave said. Home growers cannot legally get their hands on GMO's. And IF a seed company is allowed to sell GMO's to farmers, they are not going to get those seeds mixed up and send you them by accident.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 4:16PM
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Besides what's mentioned above, GMO seed is sold on contract and is a rather tightly held commodity.

Whether it's a literal signed contract or a written disclaimer that binds the user via opening the seed container...you're going to be told you're messing with GMO seed when it's in your hand. This isn't stuff sold in packets, it's sold in large sacks or packages.

The amount of gross misinformation about GMO out there does the gardening community and activist community very little good and generally weakens activist arguments when they try to put their activism to use.

The anti-GMO community's own worse enemy, except arguably in the case of labeling, is themselves. Too many high end activist groups do a wonderful job of shooting themselves and their activist base in the foot before anyone from "the other side" even has a chance to potentially meddle. The Organic Consumers Association is a major peddler of really bad information they've fed to their activist base...especially since they have the tools and knowledge to arm their followers with actual sane and legit advice rather than misinformation and scare tactics to grow support.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 5:15PM
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"But I also have concerns about biodiversity and how scarce some plants have become."

This, in itself, is a bit of a myth.

Aside from seed banks saving genetic material (many of them, and most replenishing supply rather than just sitting on initial source seed), the notion that in "the good old days" fields were full of 100s of different types of corn is a bit misguided.

Even in the early 1900s you were finding a market with 2-4 different types of sweet corn (mostly golden batham and country gentleman) predominately grown...not dozens. The best/most-predictable/newest was grown. This is before the hybrid era. The introduction of super sweet types and hybrid predictability made them even more popular before GMO even entered the equation.

Even some old hybrid standards most people are familiar with such as Silver Queen corn are being shunned for varieties like Argent because it's sweeter, more productive, and earlier.

The large corporate breeding outlets look to old genetic material for potential breeding stock. A lot is known about the physical characteristics that can be gained from breeding with them and every year more is being discovered about the not-exactly-visible characteristics that they may contribute to future breeding.

We still have a lot of old heirloom seed out there...most of it because it's productive and useful. Every once in a while you get a seed like "Glass Gem" corn that pops up and people ask where it's been. Well, honestly, it's a corn that has difficult and unpredictable kernel fill and the ornamental market abandoned it long ago for more predictable types...along with the fact that for the most part it's best use is sitting around and looking pretty (when it fills properly) rather than producing a quality/quantity of food.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 5:33PM
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C'mon Dave! I'd love some of Mendel's Heirloom Hybrids.



    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 6:23PM
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Green wrinkled double recessive pea...yum.

As a side note, I wish more breeding with sugar snap peas was being done for aspects other than trying to make plants shorter so they don't stake and can self-support...which is where almost all development has been focused for years.

While the sugar snap pea has been around for centuries, the version we know has only been around since the late 1970s (and didn't really gain market acceptance til the 1980s). The version we enjoy is not only much sweeter than the older versions, it sets fibers that go in one direction making eating quality an extremely much more tender product.

The peas inside the pods, however, are generally quite small compared to the shelling varieties (and mostly wrinkled, but who cares). Even though it's more desirable for the pod to weigh more from a market seller point of view (weight) than the peas inside, it would be nice to see a variety with plumper peas contained within the pods.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 6:39PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I'd love some of Mendel's Heirloom Hybrids.

Not worth the shipping costs. The germination rate on those dessicated little green balls would be non-existent by this time. :-)


PS: excellent points nc-crn

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 6:39PM
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HotHabaneroLady(7a Central MD)

Thank you, everyone who tried answering the question. I certainly did not mean to start a GMO argument and hope I have not done so.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 8:28AM
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Regarding the off-hand wheat statement, and misinformation:

A true wheat allergy is know as Celiac disease. That is an uncommon condition though not nearly as uncommon as some genetic conditions. Outside of that, it is well known via many studies that wheat (and to a lesser extent its close relatives rye and barley) is problematic for all humans to digest (as well as livestock). There is a wide range in human adaptation to handling the anti-nutrients in wheat just as there is in human adults being able to digest fresh dairy.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 12:42PM
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So is red meat. But you don't see on the side of a package of cheese, for example, "beef free."

Eat some veggies in one's diet and maybe he/she can digest more properly.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 1:37PM
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No, the grain digestibility issues are not related to other plant foods for the most part. Eating greens does not solve the problems around using wheat (whether whole or white) as the diet staple. It is simply good to eat greens, but not magic.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 6:12PM
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