Seed Issues

Jackson & Josephine County successfully bans growing GMO crops in SW Oregon!

Here is a good synopsis of the campaign to evict big Agri-Biz GMO/Chemical companies like Syngenta from the Rouge Valley.

This is 30 minute radio compilation.

Listen to the complete 5 segment Making Contact episode, Click Link Here:

More than 60 countries either ban or require labeling on GMO foods; the US is not one of them. As GMO regulation moves to a local level, frustrated consumers and farmers are pushing for state or county regulations, but the seed and pesticide companies are fighting back.

Listen to the complete 5 segment Making Contact episode.


  • Rebekah Wilce, Progressive and ALEC Exposed reporter
  • Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Pesticide Action Network senior scientist
  • Don Tipping, Seven Seeds Farm owner
  • Chris Hardy, Rogue valley farmer
  • Elise Higley, Our Family Farms Coalition leader
  • Magdeleno Rose-Avila, Yes on 15-119 volunteer
  • Barry Bushue, American Farm Bureau vice president
  • Klayton Kubo, Kauai citizen; Gary Hooser, Kauai County Council member
  • Dr. Judy Shabert, Harvard Physician
  • Chris Broussard, Whinney Hee, James Masey, concerned Kauai residents
  • Dean Okimoro, Farm Bureau Association president
  • David Louie, Hawaii Attorney General
  • Harry Stalford & Willow Coberly, Stalford Seed Farms farmers

Host/Producer: Andrew Stelzer

Producers: Laura Flynn, George Lavender, Jasmin Lopez

Contributing Producers: Barbara Bernstein, James Trimarco

Production Intern: Luna Gallegos

Andrew Stelzer is a radio producer for Making Contact. His radio work has appeared on programs including Marketplace, NPR News, BBC’s The World, Latino USA, Radio France International’s Crossroads, Free Speech Radio News, and on Making Contact since 2008. His print work has appeared in The St Petersburg Times, In These Times, E! Magazine, and elsewhere. Andrew was previously the senior reporter and anchor at WMNF radio in Tampa, FL.

Making Contact, is an award-winning, 29-minute weekly magazine-style public affairs program heard on 140 radio stations in the USA, Canada, South Africa and Ireland.

Making Contact is committed to in-depth critical analysis that goes beyond the breaking news. Showcasing voices and perspectives rarely heard in mainstream media, Making Contact focuses on the human realities of politics and the connections between local and global events, emphasizing positive and creative ways to solve problems.



Consolidation in the Seed Industry

Here a good synopsis of this issue by organic seed grower/breeder, Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seeds:

An Insight into the Commercial Seed Trade

Seven Seeds Farm and Siskiyou Seeds are an anomaly in a world of corporate multinational seed houses and fly by night seed companies that sell seeds as if they were so many widgets performing some meaningless task.  As a friend who had over 40 years of experience producing vegetable seed worldwide told me, “Most seed companies are just paper companies, they print packets and catalogs and just need a little fluff to put in the packets.”  Unfortunately garden centers across the country are filled with these type of seed packets that are sometimes just floor sweepings from the bigger seed houses where the larger, quality seed goes to farmers, leaving the B-grade seed for gardeners, whom they think won’t know the difference, blaming themselves when plants don’t thrive instead of low vigor seed.

Most seed companies buy most or all of their seed from large multinational seed companies.  Yet they still proliferate the myth that they grow it all in their backyard garden/farm.  Secrecy has long been the norm in the seed trade.  This is not a stable seed system.  Further as the economy continues to falter, many entrepreneurs are racing to the marketplace to invest in seed by setting up online seed companies touting the catch phrases of “heirloom” and “open-pollinated” like an advertising agency selling cologne. Generally these new seed companies popping up grow no seed themselves; rather they simply source it from wherever they can, with little attention to quality.  Much of this seed is grown in China and elsewhere.  The seed buyer for one of the largest most prominent national seed catalog companies told me that a full 70% of the seed they sell comes from China.  Surprised?  Well you shouldn’t be, outsourcing is the trend in all other sectors of our economy. Can you really rely on a seed system such as this to deliver high quality genetics adapted to organic growing conditions?  Is saving a few bucks worth encouraging this behavior?

Much has been written about consolidation in the seed industry and Monsanto seems to be in the news virtually everyday at the center of some new scandal.  Below is a chart that demonstrates who controls most of the planets agricultural genetic resources:

As they continue to mushroom in size and control they exert a more pressure towards proprietary control through the use of transgenic (GMO) and (F1) hybrid techniques.  Virtually all of the money available to plant breeders in the USA is from the companies on this list to develop GMO varieties to continue this trend of control and intellectual property.  This means that the maintance of open-pollinated varieties has been all but abandoned.  Hence, many of the heirloom and open-pollinated strains are not being properly maintained, cast aside like yesterday’s news.  When Monsanto acquired the largest vegetable seed company in the world, Seminis they eliminated more than 3/5ths of the varieties they once sold or maintained that will be gone from commercial circulation. Unless someone else takes them up and begins growing them, which is unlikely considering many of these varieties are proprietary hybrids with the parent lines veiled in secrecy.  It is important to note that the majority of the emphasis in the biotech breeding agenda has virtually nothing to do with health, nutrition, flavor or any considerations the people consuming this “food” might have.  Rather it is largely profit driven or trying to reinforce fidelity to their brand of chemical herbicide.  Keep your eyes to the horizon for the threat of 2-4D (Agent Orange) resistant corn, soy and cotton as more weeds become resistant to the glyphosate (like: Round-up) herbicide.  The agricultural war on the Earth wages on.

More recently the Biotech giants have turned to acquiring utility patents to further lock up genetic resources in the private domain.  Patenting traits such as heat tolerance in broccoli as if they somehow invented it!  Siskiyou Seeds and the Family Farmers Seed Cooperative are among the plaintiffs in a suit led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) and the Public Patent Foundation (PubPat) challenging Monsanto over the issue of patenting of plants and traits.  The court proceedings for this case have just begun.  May we prevail in our struggle for seed justice.

“Seed is the biggest issue of democracy in food.  Seed is a common resource, and we have to protect it for future generations…I would call GM [Genetic Modification] a cruelty to seed…I will live to see the end of Monsanto.”

∞  Vandana Shiva

Thinking like a Wathershed: Seed-sheds

As the awareness of thinking like a watershed has spread to the local foods movement, with buy local campaigns encouraging people to get to know their farmers, we have begun to see the term “food-shed” proliferate.  This is good.  If the food shed is the rivers, lakes and oceans, then the springs and mountain streams are our seed farms.  Following this train of thought, I think that it is important to view seed as the source from which our food systems originate.  How can you have a healthy, resilient organic food system without diverse, bioregional seed production and plant breeding focused upon adaptation, nutrition and stable resistance to environmental stresses?  You can’t.  The pervasiveness of GMOs really helps to reinforce the importance of GMO free zones and careful breeding and maintenance of open pollinated varieties.

Why is Siskiyou Seeds any different?  For one, we are first and foremost, seed growers.  We produce about 60% of the seed in this catalog on our home farm and a leased field down the road.  The rest we source from diverse small, organic growers much like ourselves.  The seeds grown at Seven Seeds Farm are denoted by the grower code and an asterisk (“*”) in front of the variety name.  Fortunately, we are not alone in our passion for the craft of Artisanal organic seed growing, others such as Uprising Seeds (WA), Adaptive Organics (OR), Wild Garden Seeds (OR), Abondanzza (CO), Tierra Madre Farm (CA), Turtle Tree Seeds (NY), Stellar Seeds (Canada) and other bioregional seed companies are carefully tending our collective agricultural genetic heritage.  No one in this list is getting rich from doing this.  It is clearly a labor of love.  Please support this movement as we do this out of our love for biodiversity and the flowering of life.