The Loss of Seed Diversity Endangers Our Food & Health
Seeds are the foundation of life, from fruits and vegetables to grain and livestock feed; without them we have no food.
It is estimated that upwards of 90% of our caloric intake directly or indirectly comes from seeds.
Communities are banding together to save and share heirloom and open pollination seeds that are in danger of disappearing from our planet as a result of industrialized agriculture and multinational corporations that control the majority of our seed supply.
In the 80 years between 1903 and 1983, we lost 93% of the variety in our food seeds.
According to Rural Advancement Foundation International:
- We went from 497 varieties of lettuce to 36
- We went from 288 varieties of beets to 17
- We went from 307 varieties of sweet corn to 12
The heirloom tomato has also taken an hit, losing at about 80% of its diversity over that 80 year frame.
It is tragic that a lot of these precious plants are being replaced by patented genetically engineered (GE) varieties
GMOs (Genetically modified organisms) are a very serious threat to our environment and our health.
The US has the strictest food safety laws in the world governing new additives, but the FDA has allowed GMOs to evade those laws.
The sole purported legal basis for the marketing of GE foods in the US is the FDA’s claim that they are “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) that claim is fake.
Documents released as a result of a lawsuit against the FDA reveal that the agency’s scientists warned superiors about the extraordinary risks of GE foods, their warnings were ignored, and covered up.
According to the law, no GE food can qualify as GRAS unless there is overwhelming consensus about its safety within the scientific community, and that consensus cannot be based on hypotheses or speculation, it must be based on solid evidence.
In the case of GE foods no such evidence exists.
FDA’s own files contain the admission that they did not have any technical evidence upon which to base their presumption that GE foods are GRAS.
On 24 January 2015 a statement signed by 300 scientists was published in a peer-reviewed journal asserting that there is no scientific consensus about the safety of GE foods, which confirms that they are on the US market illegally.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine wrote, “There is more than a casual association between GE foods and adverse health effects.” They go on to cite specific scientific evidence pointing to potential organ damage from GE foods (liver, kidney, spleen, and GI system), accelerated aging, immune dysregulation, infertility… and the list goes on and on and on and on.
The strongest power is the consumers’ pocketbook.
We can take back control over our food supply with the choices we make about the foods we eat, the seeds we plant, and the products we use.
Below are some suggestions, as follows:
- Stop buying non-organic processed foods. Instead, build your diet around whole, unprocessed foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats from coconut oil, avocados, organic pastured meat, dairy, and eggs, and raw nuts
- Buy most of your foods from your local farmer’s market and organic farms
- Cook most or all your meals at home using whole, organic ingredients
- Frequent restaurants that serve organic, cooked-from-scratch local food. Many restaurants, especially chain restaurants, use processed foods for their meals,
- Buy only organic, open-pollinated, and heirloom seeds for your garden, which applies to both decorative plants and edibles; they’re obtainable from seed swaps, seed libraries, and exchanges.
- Boycott all lawn and garden chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) unless they are “OMRI Approved,” which means they’re allowed in organic production. If you use a lawn service, make sure they’re using OMRI Approved products as well
And, join the Organic Consumers Association’s new campaign, “Buy Organic Brands that Support Your Right to Know” (http://buycott.com/campaign/674/buy-organic-brands-that-support-your-right-to-know)
Seed Saving Resources
To begin saving your own seeds, there are 4 Key steps, as follows:
- Choose the right plants
- Collect their seeds
- Cleaning the seeds
- Storing the seed correctly
Below are some excellent seed saving resources, as well as suggestions for where to purchase open-pollinated and heirloom seeds, as follows:
- Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA): National non-profit organization committed to protecting, promoting, and developing the organic seed trade and its growers
- Seed Savers Exchange: Organization whose mission is to promote saving and sharing of heirloom seeds and plants
- SeedSave.org: Online seed school with free downloadable book about the basics of seed saving
- Hudson Valley Seed Library: Hudson is much more than a library check it out.
The seed saving movement is growing.
Again, communities are banding together to save and share heirloom and open pollination seeds that are in danger of disappearing from our planet as a result of industrialized agriculture and multinational corporations that control the majority of our seed supply. Do your part.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively.
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