Looking for some GMO answers

LaurieK123(7b Oregon)January 4, 2012

I have been trying to research GMO seeds/plants. The net gives me lots of conflicting information and I am wondering if some of you have the answers.

I read on the net that there is no way GMO seeds are being sold on the open market to people like you and I. They say GMO seeds are limited to around 8 food types (mostly grains), and those grain seed are only sold to huge companies for crop production. TRUE/FALSE?

I also read that if a seed company says that they take the safe seed pledge; that all this statement means, is that they do not knowingly sell GMO seeds. It does not mean that all of their seeds are actually NON-GMO. TRUE/FALSE?

I receive a lot of seed catalogs. Some say they take the safe seed pledge. Some don't say anything about GMO vs NON-GMO. When I look through these catalogs I can't help, but to notice that the one's that make the safe seed pledge statement offer varieties of hybrids that have at most, resistance to 1 or 2 or 3 diseases. And, when I look at the catalogs that don't mention GMO at all; they have hybrid varieties that are resistant to 4 or 5 or 6 diseases. I find that strange and it makes me wonder how those other companies have cross-bred their seeds to be resistant to almost all disease "naturally".

I have had really mucky springs these last few years and it would be cool to get one of those super hybrids that are resistant to almost everything, but I am leery.

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It's true, you can NOT obtain GMO seeds. The Safe Seed Pledge means that their seeds that can be cross pollinated with GMO crops have been tested and found to be negative for GMO's. For example, corn can be pollinated from other corn from over 1 mile away, meaning someone growing corn for seed could easily have their corn cross pollinated with GMO corn. Testing of the seed supply proves the seed to be neg of GMO.

Hybrids that are resistant to multiple diseases is easy to accomplish. For ex, if you take an heirloom that is naturally resistant to 3 diseases and cross it with another plant variety that is resistant to 2 other diseases, then you have the opportunity for the hybrid to be resistant to 5 diseases.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 3:27AM
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Just so you know if you wonder this about anything else, you shouldn't suspect that anything with multiple resistances is genetically engineered. There are only ten GE crops approved in the US: corn, soy, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beet, papaya, summer squash, tomato, and potato (an eleventh genetically engineered organism is out there too, the GloFish which fluoresce under a blacklight, but you probably wouldn't eat that one). The first 6 on that list have resistances to a particular insect and/or (depending on the crop and variety) tolerance to an herbicide (although very recently drought tolerant corn and soybeans with altered oil content were approved, so those will be on that list too soon). The tomato (Flavr Savr) and the potato (NewLeaf) have been discontinued so, while they can be sold, they are not. Only the papaya (called the Rainbow Papaya) and summer squash have been engineered to be resistant to diseases, either the papaya ringspot virus or cucumber mosaic virus. Really, that's all there is in genetic engineering at the moment. There's also a potato with modified starch being grown in the Netherlands and a blue Rose in Japan, once Iran grew GE rice, and China has poplars. Grand total, 14 species, 9 types of traits, which really isn't all that much at the moment, although there's plenty of interesting stuff in development and awaiting approval (of course there's a lot more genetic engineering going on when you talk about microbes, for example, the rennet used in cheese production comes from GE bacteria, but I don't really know much about those).

If you suspect that something is genetically engineered and it isn't one of these crops, it probably isn't. If you suspect an attribute is from genetic engineering and it isn't resistance to Lepidoptera insects, tolerance of glyphosate or glufosinate herbicides, or resistance to papaya ringspot or cucumber mosaic virus, it probably isn't. So basically, even if those crops did have transgenes in them, which they don't (well, they don't have human inserted ones that is...odds are everything has transgenes from natural horizontal gene transfer events, including humans. Yes, genes jumping between unrelated species is as unnatural as dirt), the resistances those hybrids have couldn't be from genetic engineering.

I would suspect that the companies that don't mention GE crops are simply using more modern resources, whereas the ones that don't, because they tend to be more geared toward the heirloom market, aren't, so that may account for the difference. Ultimately, I wouldn't spend much time worrying about it though since there's more evidence suggesting that Elvis is still alive than there is that genetically engineered crops are dangerous. Many groups out there claim they are, but most of them don't even make sense to anyone with any background in biology.

Hope that clears the topic up for you.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 12:08AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Ditto on the last two posts. No GM varieties are currently offered by garden seed companies, and this is not likely to change anytime soon, if ever.

I'll just add that if you didn't have to sign a contract (or didn't get seed from a farmer who violated his) then you do not have GM seed. It is very expensive to produce GMO's, and the companies which do so are very protective of their developments. GM seed is protected by very restrictive patents which not only prohibit seed sale by the farmer, but seed saving itself. GM varieties also can't be used to breed new varieties, unless the breeder is granted that right by the patent holder.

By contrast, the PVP patents which protect the products of conventional breeding also prevent the sale of seeds or plants, but allow seed saving & propagation as long as it is only for your own use. PVP varieties can also be used to breed new varieties.

I suspect that one of the reasons that some seed companies have opted out of the Safe Seed Pledge is that they are subsidiaries of companies which also sell GM seed, or do business with those who are.

My own reservations about GM crops would be lessened if the companies involved were more forthcoming with their testing regimen (they are not) and if they didn't use government lobbying to hide their products from consumers.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 3:15AM
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Except that Gypsy and Diplomat broccoli are considered GMO. Fedco refused seed delivery for 2012 because these are genetically engineered. Territorial had Gypsy on their website, but removed it from the website and catalog. Johnny's is still selling both on their website. So GMO's are being sold by garden seed companies.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fedco out of stock list

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 3:17PM
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The question is by Whom. There is a lot of the "Sky is falling" going on but few hard facts. Fedco pulled all Semantis products, but at the time only Syngenta offered GMO products ( Bt sweet corn). Semantis is finally beginning a line of Bt corn but way behind Syngenta/Rogers. Gypsy and Diplomat broccoli are hybrids but not GMO. The only reference to GMO in broccoli is Beneforte. But that is a cross between a wild Italian broccoli and commercial types and still not qualify as a GMO. It is not on the market yet anyway althogh they have been working on for 10 years.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 5:45PM
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Check out some of the good documentaries on this subject including Korn King. I get mine on Netflix but they are also in video stores.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 5:07AM
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There has been GMO sweet corn on the market for years, with Bt control for corn ear worm, Attribute and YieldGard are some of the code words for them, and I'm sure there are others.

New this year is Roundup Ready sweet corn courtesy of Semenis, which also has the Bt components in it. These would be the three varieties in Semenis 'Performance' Series, Obsession II, Passion II and Temptation II.

It's true that you don't see these in the garden catalogs, but if you get any of the more commercial catalogs you do want to look out for them, Siegers has them in and maybe Seedway but I don't get their catalog anymore.

As far as Gypsy goes, I'm not sure what's going on there, there is no GMO approved broccoli. I think it may go to part of the breeding process, some of the breeders are using transgenic sterile male hybrids to avoid cross pollination when breeding seed for an F1 hybrid, so that the hybrid is not GMO, but an intermediary step may have involved one, but since it's not marketed it doesn't need to be approved. I'm waiting for more info from FEDCO on this since Gypsy has been my favorite broccoli for years.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:49AM
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A follow up on the Gypsy and Diplomat broccoli, it seems that what's going on here is that there is a process called cell fusion used in producing some of the parent material for some brassica hybrids. Currently OMRI lists cell fusion as a prohibited technique in their GMO definition. I can't tell you exactly how cell fusion differs from straight up shooting foreign genes into cells, but I do know that our certifier is continuing to allow seed from these varieties at this stage since the actual hybrid is not modified and doesn't contain any of the 'fused' traits after breeding.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 10:14AM
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Hybridization is a way of genetically modifying plants. People don't object to it for the only reason it has been around for so long. It is still genetic modification. You have to understand genetics in order to know what results you can expect from crossing together 2 plants. Crossing something with a resistance to something with another resistance does not guarantee that all of the offspring will have both resistances.
Modern techniques of genetic modification will become traditional some day and people will have a hard time understanding why anybody objected to them.
Right now I have a feeling that people who object to crops with inherited resistance to pests/ diseases must be connected to pesticide producers. Now pesticides are certainly bad for our fields and crops and ourselves and I personally would welcome modern techniques that allow to stop dousing gardens and farms with poisons. However, to each their own; I don't insist.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 9:28PM
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Nope, GMO refers to the transfer of genes from one species to another. I'm not going to get into the politics of modern techniques or patented genes and plant material.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 12:18PM
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ralleia(z5 Omaha, NE)

Unless I am failing to understand something, hybridization is plain, old sexual reproduction. Some hybrids (horse-donkey crosses, lion-tigers) are sterile, many are not.

When a male and female get together and have a baby, that isn't GMO. GMO would be tinkering with the genes (just as roam said) to give the human baby gills, say.

Totally different.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 10:06PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"Hybridization is a way of genetically modifying plants. People don't object to it for the only reason it has been around for so long. It is still genetic modification."

Wait... if hybridization is genetic modification, and the wife & I are from different ethnic backgrounds, does that mean we would have "genetically modified" children??? (Come to think of it, that might explain a lot.) ;-)

But seriously...

Sorry, I too have to disagree. The products of sexual reproduction - whether hybrid or OP, and whether fertilization is natural or assisted - are not considered to be "genetically modified". The various genes were already present in the species gene pool (or occasionally from other species within the same genus). Hybridization just forms new combinations of those genes. All of the parents are normal, and nothing was added to the genome. It's all natural.

In contrast, genetic modification inserts genes into a species from sources that could never have combined with it naturally, through the use of mechanical, non-sexual methods. Unlike conventional breeding, these genes come from sources outside the genus of the target species - sometimes from different kingdoms.

Conventional breeding as we know it today requires a knowledge of genetics, but all that is being done is to cross varieties with desired traits, and select from the progeny those that concentrate those traits. Note that our ancestors created most of the food crops that we eat now, from wild relatives, using these same techniques - with no knowledge of genetics. We just do it faster.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 1:26AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Now pesticides are certainly bad for our fields and crops and ourselves and I personally would welcome modern techniques that allow to stop dousing gardens and farms with poisons.

No, what they're doing is making the crop plants more resistant to chemicals so they can spray more chemicals on the crops to kill the weeds (which are becoming resistant).

If you think the goals of Monsanto (those kind, caring folks who brought us BGH) or other companies tinkering with GMOs are for the benefit of the consumer and/or humanity, I would disagree. But please, don't take my word for it. Fire up the google, consult sources you find trustworthy, watch some of the documentaries. Decide for yourself if you think these ideas are good, beneficial.

The Future of Food
The World According to Monsanto
Wiki Monsanto article
Corn King

And don't forget - your tax dollars are hard at work subsidizing all of this.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 2:24PM
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First. Natural hybridization is NOT genetic modification. It places two plants that can naturally sexually reproduce and mates them. Some of the traits from each parent will be in the offspring. Hopefully the desired traits will be in the offspring. The offspring is known as a HYBRID. It is 100% natural.

In order to isolate certain genes that are desirable (i.e. disease resistance, color, taste, etc.) so we can transfer them in the hybrid process we must get a stable parent line. This normally means taking the parent and growing only it by itself until it is imbred to the point it can not breed with itself any more. This is important so that the transfer of genes is one way. From one male to the female.

This imbreeding process is known as "selfing". It takes many generations of selfing to get a mostly sterile female plant. This can take 5-10 years of growth cycles. If you do this with multiple lines then you will have "breeding lines" that have traits that can be passed around.

Once we have the "self'd" line we can then introduce an all male parent that has genes we want to transfer in. If it is for a disease resistance then when the two parents breed (pollen from the male transfers to the female, the seed produced will have traits from both parents. Hopefully with the result we bred for.

This whole process is costly and time consuming, but it is the natural breeding process. 100% organic.

GMO TECHNIQUE 1-Cell Fusion:
In order to bypass this time consuming process biotech companies have noticed that some plants naturally produce sterile plants each year. Examples are corn, radish, sunflower and a few other species. This natural male sterility means that the plants are ALL female. They can not breed or pollinate themselves. This is nature's way of preventing too much inbreeding. Other plants use different techniques to prevent inbreeding, but this natural male sterility is very valuable to breeding companies.

Natural male sterility means that we can cut years off of the breeding cycle. We just isolate the male sterile plants, allow them to set seed and boom, one cycle and we have a 100% female parent line ready to be pollinated with a male with genes we want in the final seed.

BioTech companies thought, what if we could identify the genes that code for male sterility and transfer it into other plants that don't have natural male sterility. We could eliminate some of the off plants that happen when we use the selfing technique along with YEARS of natural selfing. So that is what they did.

They figured out how to destroy most of the cell wall around the sterile plant's cell using chemicals. This must be done in order to merge the cell with another plant species. The cell is then gamma irrdiated. (Think nuclear here). Once this is done then a cell of the target plant is introduced. Lets pick broccoli in this example. The cells are then fused using electricity. What you wind up with is a Broccoli cell that has a male sterility gene. It's seed will be 100% sterile and unable to breed with itself. The broccoli can now have a normal hybrid process happen. This hybrid though is NOT a traditional hybrid as it now has DNA and genes from another plant species. This foreign DNA would never have been allowed to cross the species barrier in nature.

You will sometimes see these listed as CMS varieties in seed catalogs. CMS stands for Cytoplasmic Male Sterility. It is banned in organic seed, but many times is unlabeled in conventional seed. Johnny's sells many CMS derived seeds even though they have

GMO Technique 2-Gene Insertion or Deletion
This is the "traditional" genetic engineering where genes are insterted from animals, plants, bacteria, virus, etc. These will usually be labeled by seed companies.

Consumers can buy GMO seeds now. The most common is sweet corn. It will be listed as attribute enhanced, etc. Usually this will contain the gene to code for the BT toxin.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 11:23PM
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"Natural hybridization is NOT genetic modification." This is misleading. Natural hybridization is indeed a form of genetic modification. Stipulate that you mean "human induced genetic modification" and it will be a better fit.

"Natural male sterility means that we can cut years off of the breeding cycle. We just isolate the male sterile plants, allow them to set seed and boom, one cycle and we have a 100% female parent line ready to be pollinated with a male with genes we want in the final seed. " This is confusing and wrong.

I am constantly amazed at the number of people who read 3 highly biased articles on the net, watch a few highly biased videos and voila, they are suddenly experts on GMO. I have 20 years background in growing and producing plants yet I am not even close to being an expert.

I personally am not at all bothered by the idea of growing gmo plants. I am very much bothered when the changes involved are of the type like BT corn and roundup ready crops. The BT corn will in the end cause earworms to develop tolerance and then outright resistance. Roundup ready crops will induce weeds to become roundup tolerant. Palmer's amaranth (red root pigweed) is already totally resistant to roundup in many areas of the U.S. What I would approve of and would willingly grow is from narrow lateral gene moves such as moving the gene for bacterial spot tolerance from pepper to tomato. Note that pepper and tomato are first cousins, but far enough apart that they cannot be crossed sexually. This is a disease that causes huge amounts of damage to tomatoes each year. There are no genes in tomato that provide this tolerance, but the gene is readily available in pepper. It is a gene that we already consume in tons of peppers each year. The advantage to me is that I would be able to avoid spraying with any chemicals, including "organic" chemicals. To me, this is a winning combination with better production and less spraying.

tomato breeding Florida


    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 4:55PM
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I understand that YOU may be fine with it, but nature is not. Despite what the BioTech industry will tell you, gene insertion and deletion is NOT an exact science. Even when you are transferring genes from "related" plants, you can NOT predict the final outcome of inserting a foreign gene. Transferring genes even within the same species asexually has caused the plant to express other genes in unforseen ways.

It has been observed that when a gene is transferred asexually vs sexually within the same species, that gene will attach itself to a different spot on the chromosome. This can then alter the normal expression of other genes.

SO, while YOU may be fine with cell fusion, GMO, etc. I am not. The Biotech industry is in it's infancy. They THINK they know what they are doing, but they are still infants in this field.

Until we can map a genome and then know with 100% certainty how those genes will interact we are playing with fire.

"I" would not be comfortable until they can use a computer model to artifically insert a gene and then run a program to predict HOW that gene will work within the entire organism, from immaturity through reproduction.

We also then need to take into account the environmental impact of allowing these plants into the environment. If transgenes are transferred in the pollen or seeds then we need to be concerned about those genes being transferred back into wild plants of the same species.

I would be royally pissed if someone started growing roundup resistant tomatoes and the damn things transferred those genes to other members of the nightshade family that we want to kill and are deadly for us.

So you see, monkeying with plants outside of what nature allows through sexual reproduction is really dangerous without knowing with near 100% certainty what the ramifications are.

If you are so sure of consumer acceptance, then label any product that is not the result of sexual reproduction as a GMO organisim. Lets see how fast people rush to buy them.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 5:47PM
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"I would be royally pissed if someone started growing roundup resistant tomatoes and the damn things transferred those genes to other members of the nightshade family that we want to kill and are deadly for us." Gene transfer from tomato to other nightshades is very nearly impossible. Even transferring genes from one tomato species to another such as S. Chilense takes lab facilities to perform embryo rescue. This is however a valid complaint with regard to brassicas where gene transfer from canola is possible to quite a few other cole crops. Of far more importance is the natural development of roundup tolerance which is happening in weeds as mentioned above. This is also true for BT tolerance developing in corn earworms.

"So you see, monkeying with plants outside of what nature allows through sexual reproduction is really dangerous without knowing with near 100% certainty what the ramifications are." What I see is that nature has been doing EXACTLY this for as long as the earth has existed. Genes have been transferred from viruses and microorganisms into whatever host genome they invade. It happens to plants, it happens to animals, it happens to tomatoes. The chimpanzee is a good example. It has over 120 copies of a complete virus genome incorporated right into the chimp dna. The virus has disappeared, but it lives on in the chimpanzee.

"If you are so sure of consumer acceptance, then label any product that is not the result of sexual reproduction as a GMO organisim. Lets see how fast people rush to buy them." Surprisingly, more than half of all consumers would be willing to eat a gmo tomato given that it met the qualifications I stated above. It would have to be from a VERY well understood gene transfer, it would have to REDUCE use of chemicals, and it would have to be beneficial in terms of healthier food.

Genetic science is advancing faster than can be imagined. Within 3 years it will be common to take a gene from one plant (pepper), incorporate it into a chromosome (from tomato), insert that chromosome into another plant (tomato) and the gene will be in the exact place in the genome from which it originated and will have the exact same function it had in the host plant. This is possible because not-so-surprisingly, plants share a very high level of similarity at the genetic level. The closer two plants are related, the more similar they are. Pepper and tomato happen to be first cousins so the similarities at the dna level are about 95%. It will even be possible to "edit" out mistakes in the genome by taking functional genes one at a time and combining them into fully functional chromosomes.

I do have serious questions about the current capabilities for genetic modification. I am pointing out that those capabilities are changing dramatically. If we live another 5 years, then we both might have entirely different opinions on the use of gmo technology.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 8:37PM
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Cell fusion is generally not a GMO process as far as what we consider true GMO manipulation. It's a selection/breeding process sometimes helped by forced mutations, but mostly discovered through natural mutation. These mutations are very rarely made by inserting or changing DNA/RNA via a GMO process, though (none that I know of outside of tobacco and canola, and not widely used in either). One of the first CMS grains was a naturally selected mutant corn from Texas. Unfortunately, it was quite weak when it came to disease and breeding with this line of corn is now a thing of the past. Once you isolate a breeding stock for GMO, the process goes onto a rather traditional hybrid breeding process...this may be where the confusion is coming from. That said, CMS processes are also used for breeding hybrid seed for non-GMO hybrid seed, too.

Most of it's use is for breeding hybrid seed...be they GMO or traditional hybrids. In the case of corn you can plant 1 row of "male" and 4-6 rows of "female" (or rather male pollen inhibited) corn in order to get a more predictable hybrid seed...since the "female" corn will not self-replicate because of the lack of pollen. This keeps an immense amount of other-wise human labor to manually hybridize down to a minimum in hybrid seed production.

The trait, itself, is inherited. Much like you can have undesirable genetic traits passed down in humans, you can have them in plants, too. In this case, this plant "defect" is used for a human "good." There's over 50 identified "RF-type" breeding types for many families of plants, and many types within these families. This provides a very diverse stock for breeding. It all comes down to the expression (or mis-expression, rather) of a protein which inhibits viable male pollen. This "technology" was discovered in the 1950s, understood better as the decades passed, and put to good use today.

Once farmers/agri-business/etc knew what to look for as far as breeding stock goes, many more of these types of CMS plants became available for breeding stock. Commercial hybrid seed production is relatively new in the long history of agriculture, and specializing it to the point of taking manual labor out of it as much as possible is even newer. These mutations have occurred all throughout the history of agriculture...we've just discovered uses for them. By understanding the genetic "defect" of the expression of these proteins, breeding CMS plants became a lot easier. It's a matter of selecting the best parents to cultivate the "defect" based upon their already existing genetics.

That said...we should probably expect GMO CMS plants in the future. It's currently possible to do...it's just not done beyond the research stage yet...mostly because it's not needed. GMO is a patentable process...so there is an eventual incentive to do it. One has to keep in mind, however, that most CMS growers are growing hybrid seed for the seed suppliers...so it's not like there's going to be a huge consumer demand for this type of technology. It's not a very profit-oriented area of research since the hybrid seed makers are growing for the seed company, themselves. All that male-donor corn is plowed under before it even gets a chance to set seed, itself...it's a pure seed production operation.

This post was edited by nc-crn on Sat, Feb 9, 13 at 19:29

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:14PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Well I feel for the OP because they are finding the same conflict here as their pointless internet search! Jeeks!

There are many takes on the issue and I take a middle ground. I do not think a home gardener needs to worry a wink about GMO seed. I am also at this time not concerned about buying sweet corn seed that is not tested. The reason for these two statements is that Monsanto is not going to just let GMO seed out willy nilly; their greed is our safety in this instance. Until something changes, there is no need to get bent out of shape about possibly having GMOs in your home garden seed.

If you want to stick it to Monsanto, do not buy any seed from companies that carry their home garden seed varieties. See link below. Note at this link you can see the same irritating misinformation, some of it corrected, and some of it never getting through to the idiots.

Here is a link that might be useful: Monsanto free seed companies

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 9:18PM
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"Hybridization is a way of genetically modifying plants. People don't object to it for the only reason it has been around for so long. It is still genetic modification."

Sexual reproduction is a way of genetically modifying plants. People don't object to it for the only reason it has been around for so long. It is still genetic modification.

Hybridization is a natural process, just as sexual reproduction is. The only downside to hybridized plants is the work needed to stabilize them. There's nothing inherently bad about them (and the vast majority of our heirlooms were hybrids at some point)

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 11:38AM
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You are very wrong about GMO seeds being available to the public. It is NOT just sweet corn that is GMO now. Cucumbers, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage and many other common seeds bought from places like Johnny's and other seed sources sell GMO seeds, but do not disclose that the seed they are selling IS GMO.

What most people think of as GMO is transgenic modification of a species. By this we mean the artificial transfer of genes from different kingdoms of living things. Most commonly this has been transferring genes from bacteria and fungus to plants.

Cell fusion is also considered genetic modification and is WIDELY used in modern breeding to cut down on the time it takes to have a sterile plant line for breeding. In order to hybridize a plant "naturally" and get reproducible results you need a sterile parent to breed to. That parent will have been inbred to the point it can no longer produce viable pollen to self pollinate. This parent will have traits we want to include in a new hybrid (disease resistance, fruit quality, etc.). It will then be cross pollinated with another plant in the same species that HAS viable pollen and other desirable traits. The resulting seed from this cross we hope will have the genes we want with the desired traits we want.

Inbreeding, also known as selfing (because we pollinate it with itself until it no longer can produce it's own pollen), is the traditional method. Some plants, such as corn and onions, naturally have some infertile plants. They NEVER produce pollen. This trait helps the plant to prevent too much inbreeding in it's own line. We can exploit this trait called cytoplasmic male sterility (the males are all sterile) when we want to hybridize corn, onions, etc. We plant seed corn that we know is all male sterile. It becomes the perfect parent to cross with.

Broccoli, Cabbage and many other veggies have no natural male sterility. What plant breeders are now doing us using chemicals and electricity to "fuse" the nucleus of cells from Corn, Sunflower, etc. that have the genes that code for male sterility with other veggies like Cabbage. The result is a plant that has male sterility and is now easy to cross with other cabbages. The breeder get a very uniform seed crop to sell to farmers. The downside is that NO seed will be set when the farmer plants this crop or the seed that does form will not be viable or true to it's parents.

In Europe, France mostly, genetic testing has been done on many veggies and they have found that almost 80% of cabbage has Sunflower, Corn and other DNA in it's genetic structure. This has come from breeders fusing cells from other species to induce male sterility.

The use of this technology is almost NEVER revealed by seed companies. If it is, you will usually see CMS after the variety name. Organic seed has been found to contain foreign DNA, even though cell fusion is banned in organic production. The problem is that many organic growers don't know what they are buying from breeders. CMS technology has been around for over 30 years. Some of the parent plants used in organic breeding may have been bred using CMS techniques.

You are wrong on how widely used this technology is. It has not been limited to the lab for decades. Sakata, which has some of the best broccoli lines available, is ALL CMS now except for four varieties, Syngenta is the same.

CMS technology, and the associated gene transfer, is spreading to almost ALL commercial breeders and varieties. WHY? Not just for the male sterility in hybridizing, they had that almost down pat with Self Incompatibility inbreeding. It is to lockup the genetics and attempt to limit them to a specific company. The male sterile gene, as you noted, is passed on to the progeny. There is no easy way (yet) to extract genes from a CMS hybrid.

Resistance to a specific pathogen, the most commonly bred traits, are the most valuable. If Sakata finds a gene that gives broccoli better heat resistance, they don't want other companies cross pollinating their hybrids to extract the genes. CMS technology essentially locks up the genes and makes it very hard for another company to simply extract the desired genes.

How do I know this? I called Sakata AND many of the other breeders and ASKED them why they are going the CMS route. They ALL told me it was to lock up their genetics and prevent "theft" of their property. Mind you NONE of these companies MADE the genes. They just found a way to coax them into the seed.

In Summary, can you avoid CMS technology? YES, as long as YOU grow the food and YOU do your homework on WHICH varieties use CMS technology. The only large company that I know of that does not use CMS on large scale is Bejo. They are a European Seed breeder that sells many of their varieties in the US.

Enza Zaden is another, but they have less of their lines available in the USA.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 12:28PM
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"Sexual reproduction is a way of genetically modifying plants. People don't object to it for the only reason it has been around for so long. It is still genetic modification. "

You KNOW that this is NOT connected with the discussion of artificial genetic modification. Sexual Reproduction has LIMITS that prevent inter species reproduction. A human can not reproduce with a bear. A cat can not reproduce with a dog.

What the OP is asking about is ARTIFICAL gene transfer that can ONLY happen by human intervention.

Transferring genes from Pigs to Salmon to make them grow faster would NEVER happen in nature without some FREAK accident. Transferring genes from bacteria to plants would also NEVER happen in nature.

Once genes have been inserted into a plant, it is possible for the plant to them pass those genes on to other plants in nature that they can normally cross pollinate with. This is why allowing GMO varieties into the wild without requiring them to be pollen sterile is so dangerous. They can DESTROY an entire class of plants under the right conditions.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 12:46PM
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moon...there's so many things wrong with what you said about a variety of things I can't tell if you're trolling or just confused about what CMS is. Either way, you're projecting some things totally wrong on the issue and it's bleeding into other aspects of your rants.

"Cucumbers, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage and many other common seeds bought from places like Johnny's and other seed sources sell GMO seeds, but do not disclose that the seed they are selling IS GMO. "

False. ...not only would this be against the laws of some states to let a crop be grown like this in an unregulated manner, GMO seed is a contract-driven, tightly-held intellectual property that seed makers very strictly hold onto.

"The downside is that NO seed will be set when the farmer plants this crop or the seed that does form will not be viable or true to it's parents."

...this was part of one of your CMS rants. It's not true. If it was true we'd never have corn bred via CMS. That stuff on the cobs grown from CMS bred corn...that's seed. CMS bred hybrids (corn, broccoli, or etc) all set seed that will make new plants...there's no "seed termination" involved. The whole process of using CMS for hybridization would be a failure point if this was the case. As far as growing that set seed and it not being true to it's parents...well, that's the case with almost every F1 hybrid and it has nothing to do with CMS breeding methods.

Also, CMS is NOT GMO...I explained why above in a lengthy post I'm not rehashing unless there's a specific question. ...nor did I say " It has not been limited to the lab for decades" ...nor did I say it wasn't widely used ...nor do I think you understand "self compatibility inbreeding" as it applies to a variety of crops, especially corn.

Calling CMS "GMO" would be like calling those short-legged cats/dogs that are bred not to jump on furniture GMO. CMS, as it's used for breeding, is a selected genetic defect used to an advantage in conventional hybrid seed production. The first CMS crop (and most all following) was produced from a naturally occurring mutant.

Your take on how genes are "locked up" is very off the mark. No one can make genes "invisible" or somehow hide them via a CMS breeding method. It goes against the very nature of how sexual reproduction works. Very simply, and quite literally, a CMS plant is a plant that doesn't produce pollen and therefore is solely "female" from the point of reproduction. That's it...just that.

CMS doesn't "lock up genes" as you described...CMS use is purely a labor and time saving hybrid seed breeding method that makes hybrid purity a lot easier to obtain (whether it be conventional or GMO hybridization). The only "locking up" of genes taking place would be NATURAL BREEDING with CMS lines, then cross/back breeding for "takes" bred into the CMS line. This is what is meant by "locking up" their genetics...aka, keeping a hybrid parent (which is not patentable) and it's "formula" an in-house creation. This is NOT a GMO process...it's an old-as-dirt traditional breeding process and it's favored to do it with the female (CMS) parent. It's a lot easier to lock up your favored genetics in an all-female (CMS) parent because you know you can isolate it's genetics and breed it with further desired traits from a "normal" (non-CMS) pollen producing "male" plant without it pollinating itself (or by surrounding plants in a CMS stand). You get your "main mixture" of genetics that you favor locked into your female (CMS) plant and attempt to pass further desired traits from your male (non-CMS) plants.

This is why so much hybrid seed comes true to type rather than being spotty or missing traits. In the case of corn, you don't have to de-tassel the female (CMS) hybrid parent of your corn because it's not going to produce pollen (therefore saving a lot of time/labor/error). ALL of the pollen is going to come from the male (non-CMS) parent and therefore you're going to get 100% hybridization between the two plants.

For the sake of full disclosure, I have worked on CMS corn in a professional realm for quite a while.

CMS has been around longer than GMO...before GMO plant research was being done...before the "Big 6" GMO companies were inserting genes into crops... We've had CMS hybrid produced corn since the 1950s (which is about 3 decades longer than you stated it's been around). CMS breeding and products in the marketplace pre-dates even the most rudimentary GMO experimentation by 2 decades.

This post was edited by nc-crn on Sat, Mar 30, 13 at 4:04

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 11:53PM
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There are heaps of films around giving you info on seeds and GMO.

This post was edited by Shans on Tue, Jul 8, 14 at 2:30

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 10:12AM
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CMS - Cell Fusion is GMO. Here is the definition of what constitutes GMO by IFOAM - the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements and they say:

“Genetic engineering is a set of techniques from molecular biology (such as recombinant DNA) by which the genetic material of plants, animals, microorganisms, cells and other biological units are altered in ways or with results that could not be obtained by methods of natural mating and reproduction or natural recombination. Techniques of genetic engineering include, but are not limited to: recombinant DNA, cell fusion, micro and macro injection, encapsulation.”

Notice Cell Fusion is listed there as well. CMS in this discussion refers to cell fusion.

Try reading this document: http://www.ecopb.org/fileadmin/ecopb/documents/Proceedings_Paris_090427.pdf

It will better educate you so that you know what you are talking about.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 5:41PM
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The important thing to remember if you suspect that you have GMO seeds. Do not ever plant them near heirloom plants. They are evil and will draw the heirloom into their collective. Resistance is futile.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 7:07PM
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As have been said, you are very unlikely to buy GMO seed easily unless you buy from those biotech companies (and NO commercial GMO tomatoes available now). But GMO is not something to worry about. It is absolutely NOT true that GMO crops have to have genes from other species. For example, the GMO tomato once commercially sold has NO foreign genes, but only have one of its gene inactivated.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 4:16PM
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