Why You Should Save Heirloom Seeds


Posted on : 12:03 PM | By : Anonymous | In : ,

I got sent this by my father-in-law, and it is worth looking at. There are a few big organizations involved in a project that I had already heard about, but I never realized who these organizations were:

Monsanto: the leading producer of genetically engineered seeds, develops bovine growth hormone and is criticized for a wealth of other things.

Syngenta: a biotechnology and genomic research company that specializes in crop protection, which means pesticides, and also sells seeds.

DuPont - Pioneer Hi-Bred: the world's second largest chemical company, the Pioneer division of Dupont is the leading provider of advanced plant genetics (i.e. genetically modified seeds).

These are in cahoots with the Rockefeller and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations (both of which have questionable motives), in building the Svalbard International Seed Vault, located in Norway.  The reason I never realized the above corporations were involved is because they are huge donors under an umbrella organization called The Global Crop Diversity Trust.  Some of the companies in the trust are shipping their seeds to the seedbank, so this isn't just a bank of original seed stock, but also of GMO seeds.  The stated mission of the vault is to provide a backup in case of accidental loss of diversity.  There are over 1400 crop diversity collections in the world, but these are frequently in danger of wars, natural disaster, funding cuts and accidents.  This is also not a public storage room, but rather acts like a safety deposit box.  The company deposits seeds and no one except the depositor can access them.

So, the article my father-in-law sent me pointed out a few big issues.  Supposing you ignore all the crazy history in the article about Nazis and the Rockefeller conspiracies (of which there are many), the fact remains that the above companies are distributing seeds all over the world which are genetically modified, and are protecting regular seeds far away where no one can get them.  If you ignore the health problems that are caused by eating genetically modified foods, this is a huge sustainability issue.  GMO seeds cannot reproduce themselves.  You are not legally allowed to save the seeds from these patented varieties, and they are now able to program the seed to die before it can reproduce.  This means you would have purchase the seeds every year.

Would companies willing to do that have a problem with controlling the supply of non-GMO seeds so that all you could buy was their patented varieties?  Absolutely not.  What we have is a situation in which a few companies want to have the raw seed material for their own use stored away in a vault, and then they want to distribute their hybrid varieties to the rest of us, effectively controlling the world's food supply.  

I'm not sure about you, but I honesty don't want my food coming from DuPont.  I really don't want self-serving corporations controlling the world's food supply, and I really don't want to be forced to eat GMO foods simply because the real thing is stored away in a vault somewhere.

Here's what you can do.  First of all, I keep telling people to have a backyard garden.  When you buy the seeds, search for heirloom or heritage seeds.  These are non-hybrid varieties that you can save the seeds for.  Many are still available from many companies, so just Google it or go down to your garden store and ask.  The other thing to do is belong to a seed share organization, such as Seed Savers Exchange, or  Seeds of Diversity. Save those seeds!

Comments (6)

I had heard about this "seed vault" project a little while back. At first mention, I thought it to be a very strange and odd situation. Something about it struck me as shady. We're gardeners, and my son loves to save seeds from our plants to grow new plants in the spring. But, anyways.. thanks for pointing out that the seed vault issue is worth delving into a bit deeper.

Great information. I will make sure to pass this along.

Check the link for 'Seeds of Diversity' it points to 'Seed Savers'.

Seeds of Diversity:


Oops, my bad. :) Thanks Peter.

Good post. I always buy organic and heirloom. Thanks for spreading the word.

A great amount of information regarding the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is available at the Global Crop Diversity Trust website (http://www.croptrust.org). In particular, there is a long page that answers all of the questions related to ownership and access to the Vault and to the seeds stored there (http://www.croptrust.org/main/arctic.php?itemid=211).

The article written by Mr. Engdahl is a conspiracy theory based on erroneous information. In particular, Monsanto Corporation has had nothing at all to do with the project. The Government of Norway entirely funded the building of the project. Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust will support the maintenance and the operations of the Vault. The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation has donated funds to the Trust that enable genebanks in the developing world and the international agricultural research centers to package and send seeds to Svalbard. The Gates foundation has no other part to play in the project, and cannot access any of the seeds stored there. The full list of all donors to the Trust is found at http://www.croptrust.org/main/donors.php.

No GM seeds are stored in the Seed Vault. The administration of the Seed Vault has decided against specifying which diversity is worthy of being conserved for future generations; that would be presumptuous and risky. Nevertheless, at this time, the Seed Vault does not offer storage to GM varieties. Norwegian law, introduced prior to the establishment of the Seed Vault and intended to apply more generally to research and use of genetically modified organisms in Norway, prohibits importation of GM seeds. This law also applies to their storage in Svalbard.

The most important misunderstanding in need of correction regards access to the seeds. Only the depositor (that is, the group that sends the seeds to Svalbard) has access to the seeds. The packages and the boxes that hold them are never opened, and only the depositor can retrieve them if needed. It works like a safety-deposit box in a bank- Norway owns the Vault, and the depositor owns the seeds stored there, and is the only entity allowed to access the seeds.

The Global Crop Diversity Trust welcomes donations from all sectors, including corporations, but these donations in no way affect control or access to seeds in Svalbard. Please do an internet search on the Vault- hundreds are articles have been written and videos produced. Also look at the Norwegian government website for the Vault (http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/lmd/campain/svalbard-global-seed-vault.html?id=462220), and the seed portal site run by NordGen, which lists all the depositors at Svalbard (http://www.nordgen.org/sgsv/).

The Seed Vault is global effort to help address the problems genebanks have- especially in poor regions- in safeguarding crop diversity, by providing a free back-up storage site. That Norway along with many organizations have worked to provide this service to the world for free and under the strictest protection to the depositors of seed is a cause for celebration worldwide.

In case diversity is "accidentally" lost? There are so many different species of the same food, that if diversity was "lost" it would hardly be "accidental."