Organic Seed vs Non-organic

pushindirt(z8 OR)January 4, 2008

I have a question. I Understand that "organic" has to do with growing methods. But I notice some web sites sell "Organic" and "regular" seeds. I can understand that Organic seeds come from plants used in organic growing methods. But here's my question. If I purchase "regular" seeds and grow the plants using organic methods, don't the seeds become "Organic" then?

If not, how many times removed must the seeds be from the original plant to be considered "Organic" or can they NEVER be?

Secondly, Is there REALLY a difference in the seeds?



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The seeds will not be "organic" although the plants that grow from those seeds will be organic. There can be a difference, if the seed you are purchasing is one of the many that have been subject to artificial genetic modification they will never be organic and you can be sure that seeds sold as being organically grown, actually coming from organically grown plants, will not be artificially genetically engineered.
Purchasing organically grown seeds makes a much larger statement than simply that the seeds are organic. You are telling the seed companies that you do not want your seeds to be artificially genetically modified.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 6:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Where can a regular gardener buy GM seeds?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 10:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pushindirt(z8 OR)

For instance. Seed Savers sells both, regular and organic. They do not sell ANY GM seeds. So why would I want to buy organic seeds, when I can buy regular and grow them organically. I get the EXACT SAME result "Organic Seeds".
It's baffling. Of course, on the flip side, I understand the philosophical reasons. But hey, wasting money isn't wise either. Am I off target on this?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 12:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
buffburd(z5 NY)


The points I see of buying organic seeds (higher priced though they may be) are that you are encouraging organic methods (always a good thing), and since GM items are not required to be labeled, you protect yourself from that possibility.

So if sometime down the road, or already, conventionally grown seeds are "improved" by adding human genes or otherwise unnatural changes are made by GM you'll be safe using the organic unmodified seeds.

One more while I'm thinking of it. GM seeds and crops in general can cross, just like their naturally evolved relatives. By encouraging organic growing we can help to lessen the areas devoted to GM crops, and hopefully slow their spread.

Just my thoughts.


    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 3:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pushindirt(z8 OR)

So, the issue IS more philosophical then. Considering that seeds savers, or Victory seeds, or Tomatofest, etc. Do NOT sell GM seeds, then I am correct that there is no difference, just the price. I understand the possibility of seeds being altered, but that doesn't apply to the companies I've mentioned who are dedicated to the preservation of seeds.
The issue is as clear as mud.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 5:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Theoretically all seeds that have been genetically modified must be identifide and the buyer must sign an agreement with the seed company that they will not save these patented seeds for future use. One of the problems that has been encountered is that not all seed salespersons require purchasers to do that and the GMO seeds are out there unmarked. Another problem is that, contrary to what the "scientists" expected these GMO plants are cross pollinating with non GMO plants and producing seeds with the genetic modification as well as with other plants that are exhibiting traits similar to those of the GMO plants.
Purchasing seeds that are not supposed to be from GMO stock is not quite the same as purchasing seed from certified organic sources, because you have no real way of knowing if those non organic seeds were not cross pollinated by some GMO plant.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 6:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

pushindirt, unless you are going for organic certification or something similar, then yes I guess the decision is more of a philisophical one for the average gardener. If you were an organic producer you may have a more tangible reason for buying them. the seeds sellers usually sell in bulk to growers as well so that is probably their main market for the organic seeds.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 12:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pushindirt(z8 OR)

But let's say I WAS going for organic cert (which I'm not).
My growing methods would dictate that, not whether the seeds were organic. Even if you were REQUIRED to use organic seed, then the seeds from non-organic would become organic after the first grow-out. Correct?

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 3:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

no because organically certified is more than just growing things for a year without chemicals. you would have to meet the criteria to obtain and hold on to your certification.
but like I said, for the average gardener these things dont apply

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 10:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Unless your seed was from a GMO source once planted and germinated and you were growing that plant organically it would then be organic, except to a fanatic.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 6:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pushindirt(z8 OR)

trance, I said I wasn't looking to become certified, so I don't need to meet a criteria. Just that the SEEDS ARE THE SAME once I've grown them out 1 season. No biological difference. It boiled down to the fact of justifying the price of organic seed. If I'm buying non-GMO seed, and growing it organically, there is no reason to purchase organic seed (except for supporting the organic agenda which is fine, but left for another post).
Thanks kimmsr, that's exactly the answer I was looking for.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 2:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
crankyoldman(z5 NY)

Well, that's not quite it, because a non-organic seed can easily be treated with something, especially a vegetable seed, and that something is most likely not allowed in organic growing and maybe something you don't want in your soil. I'm talking about anti-fungals and that sort of thing. I believe it's a law that a seed seller has to let the buyer know that the seed has been treated, but I more often see these warnings on the packet instead of the seed description. Also, they usually color the seeds to let you know they've been treated so no one would eat them or use them for feed. But this is something that would also come into play regarding organic vs. non-organic seed.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 7:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pushindirt(z8 OR)

Well, that's not quite it, because a non-organic seed can easily be treated with something
We were talking about "untreated" seeds from a company that prides themselves in selling untreated, non-GMO seeds. Both organic & non organic.
Victory seeds is a good example.

So my presupposition still holds.
They are the same!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 2:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Seeds that have been treated with a fungicide or pesticide, coated on the outside of the seed capsule, are a whole different issue than GMO seeds which have had a gene that would never get into the plants genetic makeup outside of a laboratory inserted into the plants DNA. While that great consumer protection agency, the USFDA, has accepted the industries argument that injecting a gene that would not in any other way get into the plants DNA is essentially the same thing that Ma Nature has been doing for eons, it is not the same.
Organic gardeners should not buy GMO seeds and they should not buy those treated seeds either, but for very different reasons.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 8:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pushindirt(z8 OR)

Organic gardeners should not buy GMO seeds and they should not buy those treated seeds either, but for very different reasons.
That is what we've been saying.
No offense, but I know the difference between GMO & Treated.
Why are people missing the point of the original post?

We were talking about UNTREATED & NON-GMO seeds vs. organic.
Lets break this down again.
1. Untreated, Non-GMO seeds, vs. organic.
I purchase seeds from say "Victory Seeds" Who DO NOT SELL treated or GMO seeds. So, they are not treated. Did I mention they are not treated?
2. I grow them out organically, they become organic seeds.
So, no point in buying organic seeds if I started with UNTREATED & NON-GMO seeds, since they will BE organic after the first grow out.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 2:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dave, it quickly just boils down to supporting the organic seed movement.

These days, at least so far, it also entails supporting local (meaning at least on the same continent) seed producers. I was astounded to find out how much vegetable seed, hybrid as well as OP, vegetable seed production has been exported to China as well as other countries.

Save your own; life is simpler.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 8:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Way back in the 1960's organic gardeners did not buy seeds that had been treated with the fungicides people with unhealthy soils found necessary, and that still applies today. However, there were not very many people selling organically grown seeds back then so where do the seeds that are today being sold as organically grown come from? Seeds that are not GMO seeds grown in good, healthy soil. Yes we should purchase seeds from sources that can document those seeds are organically grown so that more seeds will be, but many varieties are still not and so long as the seeds are not purchased from a company that also sells GMO seeds, are not treated, are of good stock they will grow organic foods, if they are planted and grown in a soil that has been prepared by organic methods.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 7:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

Excellent discussion, thanks for starting it Dave. I try to encourage the smaller seed companies in our region in their effort to supply some OG seed, by buying OG if there's a choice, but sometimes balk at the price difference and resent, a little, 'donating to a cause' when I'd like to simply be getting affordable seed.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 3:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

aside from GMO stuff, i believe if any pesticides/chemicals were used on the parent plant, it can transfer into the seeds (makes sense). this can affect plant productivity, dna, colour, size, etc, and generally just mess with something that shouldn't be messed with. in short - no, they are not the same.

it's important and good to supporting organic farming! just think of it as making a $5 donation to OG on your seed order.

Here is a link that might be useful: hello trees

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 7:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
emyers(8 SC)

I think it goes without saying that most seed companies probably don't grow all of their own seeds. Seems to me that they purchase seed from various sources.
I'm thinking that it's conceivable that they could purchase seed for one variety from two different sources. One supplier for "Better Boy" standard seed and another for "Better Boy" Organic.

In this respect it's conceivable that the two packages could contain very different seed perhaps.

Could this apply to places like victory seed and/or seed savers?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 9:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
crankyoldman(z5 NY)

I buy a lot of seeds and I have found that there often is a difference between organic and non-organic seeds, and that is in terms of size and health. For instance, I have bought a particular herb seed from three different suppliers. Two sell non-GMO seeds raised by others conventionally. One grows their own organically. The non-GMO non-organic were much smaller than the organic. I know that one of the ferts seed growers use is for boosting seed production. There are more seeds but they are smaller. It is like the plant has X amount of energy for seed production, and you can use it for either quantity or quality. I have never found a non-organic seed to be larger than the same seed produced organically.

Also, I have noticed that organic seeds tend to be cleaner. There is less chaff and dust because it's a premium seed. Chaff and dust make for diseases.

I don't believe that supporting organic growers is philosophical. I think it's putting your money where your mouth is.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 3:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My experience is that the progeny of organically grown plants are stronger and healthier--Last summer, my husband & I planted 3 types of potatoes from the supermarket--not recommended, but we did it anyway:). 2 were non-organic, the other was organic. The organically grown seed potato jumped out way ahead of the conventional seed potatoes. We used the same organic methods growing all of these. According to Camille Kingsolver (Barbara's daughter) in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, this is because plants that have to fend for themselves are genetically stronger than plants that are dependent on heavy loads of synthetic chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides) to do the work for them. Thus, the justification for the higher price is a naturally genetically stronger plant. But the choice is yours--couldn't say how many generations of seed saving it would take to build that strength back into the plant, but it's got to happen eventually. You may need to be more vigilant about selecting seed from the more vigorous plants if you decide to go the conventional seed route. I prefer organic seed when I can get it purely for results.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Animal, Vegetable Miracle

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 11:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'd be picky on what variety of a vegetable I want to grow. Then see if it's available as organic. If not buy the regular seed and grow it organically and save seed. A strong variety for the area where you grow is more important to vigor than being organic. I can buy quality organic seed of a 95 day tomato and it will never produce as well as a non-organic Seattle's Best in my climate. If you buy from good seed houses there is not quality difference between organic and non organic seeds. Tom

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 6:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am new to all this and have had some questions about the organic seed thing. I found seeds at Home Depot packaged by Ferry-Morse that say they are "USDA Organic" and "100% Certified Organic Seeds." The back of the packet says, "Certified Organic by California Certified Organic Farmers. All Ferry-Morse organic seeds are certified 100% organic in complete accordance with the organic standards established by the USDA." Am I safe to assume these are as good as it's going to get? Thanks.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 9:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Most taters' you will find in the supermarket are sprayed with a chemical to hinder sprouting. I would guess that your organic potato seeds were not sprayed with that chemical, and it is the chemical, not how they were grown that made the difference. If those supermarket, non-organic taters' were not sprayed with the sprout inhibitor, they would have done just as well.

The Garden Guy
"New article & journal entry"

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Nate - Ferry Morse is a good company, and they do have a pretty decent organic selection.

As to if saved seeds are organic - I used to be the grower for a certified organic seed company. We could grow conventional seed (always untreated and non gmo), grow them out, and sell the saved seed as certified organic. The catch is that we had to do an organic seed search, listing at least 3 different sources we contacted to try to acquire the organic seed. IF organic seed was not available, we could use conventional.

Also, Many seed companies share the same growers. I know one grower that supplies the same seeds to 4 different seed companies.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 4:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Does anyone know if the non-organic pesticides/chemicals used in non-organic farming alter the seed in any way.

I understand that technically, if you take a non-organic seed (non-treated, non-gmo), and grow that seed organically, then it can be technically called organic.

But the question is.. in the case of a seed from a plant that is grown under non-organic farming techniques (man-made pesticides used), will the chemicals used leave the seed perfectly unaltered? (ie Do plants soak up pesticides in soil (a good separate question, do they?) and alter the seed or something to that effect?)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 11:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The only way for a pesticide to have an effect on seeds would be if it were a systemic pesticide that moves *inside* the plant. I am not knowledgeable on what, if any, impact this would have on the seed.

It's common, at least in the case of some plants, for commercially sold seed to be treated with various things. Usually a fungicide to prevent seeds from rotting in the soil before they germinate and such. Large retailers like Johnnys and others typically indicate whether this has been done or not.

There are cases of seeds being treated with systemic pesticides with the idea that the developing plant will be more resistant to pests, but I doubt much of that seed ends up in the hands of a home grower without their knowing about it. I could be wrong, but I would think it would be marketed as a selling point.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 12:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
farmersteve(N. AL Zone 7)

My one experience comparing organic seed to non-organic is the opposite of what has been reported here (although it is just one instance). Last year I purchased two packets of the same variety of peas from Seed Saver's Exchange. One packet was certified organic, one not. The certified organic pea seeds were much smaller and had a much much lower germination rate than the "regular" seed. Once sprouted, there was no distinguishable difference in the quality of the plants or peas.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 11:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

I am not knowledgeable on what, if any, impact this would have on the seed.

It may impart selection pressure on the plant and alter its genes to respond to that pressure.Whether this adaptation to an environmental stressor actually expresses itself in genes and then to such a degree that it is noticeable in the plant is an exercise left to the reader.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 12:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think what everyone is forgetting (as of 2014), is that there are NO GM seeds available to home gardeners, at all !!!
So discussing GM vs. Organic, is moot.

There are rules by the USDA regarding "organic seed stock" when complying with commercial certified organic growers.
These rules (guidelines for us) are generally, that true organic seeds should be used for sprouts and edible seedlings if you want to keep a 100% organic diet.
Other than that, the amount of non-organic elements found in or on seeds quickly dissipates when seeds are grown to a mature harvest size.
It is up to you to decide if a smidgen of pesticide found in tiny seed may be a consequence to your health/diet.
Consider the car exhaust or other elements landing in your during the whole growing season soil.....just a thought.

Here is a link that might be useful: Seeds, Annual Seedlings, and Planting Stock in Organic Crop Production

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 1:47AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Informal mycorrhizae trials thread
Background: As a result of the mycorrhizae discussion...
Papaya Trees
I'm getting ready to plant a few papaya trees in my...
Walking Down Memory Lane
I just clicked on the 'Sustaining Our Environment'...
wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana
opinion on Martha Stewart organic seeds?
i can't seem to get any information on them. Really...
Broom corn millet-bulk for consumption?
Would anyone know of a source of bulk broom corn seed...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™