Keeping Heirloom Seeds Heirloom

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Fri, May 8, 2015 - 1:04pm

From The Healthy Home Economist

...corporate behemoth and GMO titan Monsanto has been gobbling up the seed market faster than a caterpillar can munch a tomato plant! With one fell swoop in 2005, Monsanto grabbed approximately 40% of the US vegetable seed market with its acquisition of Seminis.

This means that a home gardener could unknowingly be supporting the development and proliferation of genetically modified crops if the seeds used are from Seminis.  In addition, Monsanto now apparently owns the trademark for many of the names of the heirloom seed varieties themselves!

Planting a sustainable home garden is much more than just choosing certified organic seeds and seedlings because Monsanto has cleverly positioned itself to make money off the home gardening trend.

Here's a list of the trademarks they bought, courtesy of Occupy Monsanto (via The Wayback Machine). Honestly, I USE some of these types and it has me nervous: will my future seed purchases of Golden Acre cabbage, Black Beauty eggplant, Marketmore cucumber, Holy Mole hot pepper, Chanenay carrot, Early Butternut squash, and Early Girl tomatoes be curtailed by bioethics? I think so. This year I bought Brunswick cabbage, an Italian heirloom eggplant, just replanted my weird little West Indian gherkin cukes, used my saved seeds for squash, planted Danvers carrots and will be doing nothing but Rosa egg tomatoes.

See if your seed supplier has taken the safe seed pledge: there is a large global list, at

I found new suppliers on this list, and you might, too.


Jbarney's picture
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I'll get my goofy, small town reaction out of the way first....

How the %@#&! does someone trademark the genetics of a seed?

(Not expecting a response)


Jbarney's picture
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An Old Indian Guy....


Thought I would pass along some information in this thread about a seed project happening here in Vermont....some of the local Abenaki Indians are trying to gather as many heirloom seed strains as possible.  I think there are other tribes around the country trying to replicate the same thing...the types of seeds and crops that would have been around prior to contact with whites.

I'm willing to grow pretty much anything, although I have a real slant toward organic and heirloom.  I wasn't able to get all of the varieties....but a couple of years ago I was able to several of the varieties.

As far as I know, the research into this project is pretty legit.  Up here near Canada, the Abenaki, Micmaq, St. Lawerence Iroquois....they were all recorded as having agriculture by the first white explorers in the area.  The "three sisters" approach....planting corn, then surrounding the stalk of the corn with beans and squash is pretty sell documented.  The beans were manipulated to grow up the corn stalks, and the large squash leaves kept many of the weeds away.

"Vermont" Cranberry beans...these were the first ones that I grew last year....didn't have much success with them, as the deer really munched on them.  I was able to save enough seeds from my garden last year to continue another generation.  Planted a full row today.

"Morrisville" Sunflowers....planted some of these a week or two ago, and the first of them are coming up!

"Calias" Corn....planted them at the same time as the sunflowers and I am still waiting....

"Skunk Beans".....examined the soil for these today....cracks and lines where I planted the seeds. These are a pole bean, very excited to see the first signs of growth.

"Penobscot Pumpkin"....planted these today.

I am going to talk to the guy who is head of the project and try to see what else I can get my hands on.  There would have been various other squash plants, other types of seeds the natives used....depending on whatever area you are talking about.  It has definitely peaked my interest.   

Will keep you updated.


Hotrod's picture
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Wildlife aren't stupid


You mentioned that the deer liked your beans.  A few years ago we planted 3 acres of open pollinated corn seed next to 12 acres of conventional hybrid corn.  We let the corn stand over winter and wouldn't you know it, the wildlife had eaten every single kernel of the open pollinated corn-and didn't touch the hybrid corn. I'm guessing the open pollinated corn has much better nutritional value, maybe even tastes better.


Michael_Rudmin's picture
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Posts: 919
Blindsiding you with a reply...

The way you patent the genetics of a seed: first, You recombine the genetics of the seed with known poisons from bacteria, as well. . You convene a panel of experts to say what you want; then, you donate liberally to campaigns through PACs that urge the politicians to vote the way you want; you run a publicity grassroots campaign that pushes your interests as the "just" or "economically advantageous" solution; you contaminate all the heirloom seed you can, with your tainted seed; then you sue everyone opposed into the ground.

That is how I would advise doing it, if I thought it worth doing. How would yo say it should be done?

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