What are heirloom seeds?
In the truest sense of the word “heirloom,” such cultivars have been nurtured, selected, and handed down from one family member to another for many generations. Many gardeners consider 1951 to be the latest year a plant can have originated and still be called an heirloom, since that year marked the widespread introduction of the first hybrid varieties.
With the advent of generically modified organisms (GMOs), there has been a renewed interested in growing heirloom cultivars while supporting the community of independent growers and seed-bankers that preserve non-GM seed stocks. Amid concerns about the objectivity of regulators and rigor of the regulatory process, about contamination of the non-GM food supply, about effects of GMOs on the environment and nature, and about the consolidation of control of the food supply in companies that make and sell GMOs, many who were straddling the fence now find themselves well rooted on the organic side of the issue.
Genetically modified organisms are subject to intellectual property law. And, while big investments have been made along scientific lines to develop unique, patentable products, such “agenda science” can not be trusted to definitively address the question of whether food produced from GM crops is safe.
It is generally agreed that no genetically modified organisms can be considered heirloom cultivars.
Without the ongoing growing and storage of heirloom plants, seed companies and governments will control all seed distribution. This has far reaching implications, not just for global food supplies, but for the future of bio-fuels as well. Hybrid plants, if regrown, will generally not be the same as the original hybrid plant, thus ensuring complete dependency on seed distributors for future crops.
We each have a duty to insure these heirloom plants are freely available to our children’s children’s children. Don’t buy into the bluff, the battle is far from lost. Not only are heirloom seeds available, but the new techniques described in Ascension University’s Modular Agriculture curriculum will help to insure that “nutrient rich” is first among the design criteria for future crops.