JW, Why don’t you grow hybrid varieties? What’s wrong with hybrids?

04/11/2010 at 9:24 pm Leave a comment

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

 Within the past decade, this country and the world have lost a wealth of genetic diversity. Every year many plant and animal families are lost to extinction due to human enterprise. The activities of men and women are having more of an impact on the future of the earth’s lifesphere than millions of years of evolution, and without any clear plan. This is the problem.

Within the past few years, the  vast majority of commercial seed companies have quietly been purchased by the subsidiary of a major chemical company. It is estimated that since 1981 the number of seed varieties in catalogs have gone from around 5,000 to only about 500. Beyond that, the seed that you may assume is being created on the farms of regional seed companies are in fact being produced offshore by megasized industrial operations. Worst of all, the chemical/industrial monster has been developing seed using gene splicing techniques. We’re talking about mixing the genetic material of plants and animals to create frankenstein monstrosities that have the ability to spread from farm to farm by the distribution of pollen by the wind and insects. The long term implications of these activities will not be fully understood for years.

“So if that’s the problem, what’s the solution?”

Back as early as the mid 1970’s, visionary men and women recognized the trend toward plant hybridization geared to producing fruit and vegetables with improved properties that benefit industrialized agriculture. Tomatoes that bear more consistant size/shape fruit, ship and store well, and can be picked green and ripened as needed with ethylene gas, for instance. This was the beginning of the preservation of many open-pollenated varieties that today are classified as ‘heirlooms’. Varieties that were passed down from family member to family member through generations because of some endearing quality. These qualities might include taste, appearance, suitability to specific local climates, etc. From the work of these  early pioneers many plant varieties have been preserved that would otherwise surely fallen to extinction

“So I should save and grow my own seed?”

Not everyone has the time, space, expertise, or even interest to be a seed saver. It’s just not practical. We can, however, support others who have dedicated themselves to the classification, banking, and periodic reproduction of heirloom plants for the purpose of maintaining the availability of viable seed.

I don’t have enough space to maintain the necessary separation of varieties to ensure against cross pollination. I don’t even know enough about seed saving techniques to be successful, (although I assume if that were my focus I could learn).

“So then how are you part of the solution?”

By purchasing heirloom and open pollinated seed from others who dedicate themselves to seed saving, I support the process. Nobody can personally bankroll a farming operation indefinitely, no matter now noble the cause. By spending my dollars I am casting my vote for the preservation of genetic diversity.

“Can I help too?”                              

Yes. By supporting those of us who resist the temptation to improve our yields by growing hybridized plants, using petro-chemical fertilizer, insecticides, or herbicides. Without an educated public with the will to similarly spend a little more to support a worthy cause, we will not be able to sustain our efforts forever. When you buy chemical free, open pollinated produce you are not only putting great tasting, healthy food on your family’s table. You are also drawing a line in the sand and telling the chemical/industrial giants “NO!!”.

Thanks for supporting JW’s Farm.


Entry filed under: Rants. Tags: , , .

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Snapshots and random thoughts from one little micro-farm, trying to make a difference.


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