by Juan Jardinero
“Wonder is the seed of knowledge”
— Francis Bacon
Finding the right seeds that thrive in your own micro-climate can be a challenge and it will take time to determine which seeds work where. Especially around Xela, finding the right selection can be difficult, if not impossible. Also, when it comes to seeds, not all are the same, and sometimes the labeling of heirloom, hybrid or GMO seeds can be confusing. Here is a helpful guide to better understand the seeds that you may come across.
The term heirloom vegetables or seeds, is used to describe any type of seed that has been saved and grown for a period of years, which has been passed down and preserved for generations. In order to be saved, all heirloom seed must be open pollinated. Open Pollinated plants are simply varieties that are capable of producing seeds that will produce seedlings just like the parent plant. Incredibly, not all plants do this. Heirloom seeds allow you to have more variety of plants and can ensure a life time of delicious veggies that have adapted to their surroundings. These are the only seeds I chose to plant in my garden.
Farmers and gardeners have been cultivating new plant varieties for thousands of years through selective breeding. By cross-pollinating two different, but related plants one is able to create new breeds. The process, however, requires patience but the reward is you can create varieties that are better adapted to a place, its weather patterns, and its predatory insects. Around the 1920s, a method was discovered that could create these desired traits within just one generation. This sounds great but these seeds are a one-hit wonder. Future generations won’t have the same vigor or uniformity, so at the end of the growing season you mist throw away the plant and buy some more. This is bad news for the plants, the garden and the gardener, and also allows seed companies to gain control of what we buy and grow.
Unlike hybrid seeds, GMO seeds are not created by using natural, low-tech methods. GMO seed varieties are created in a lab using high-tech and sophisticated techniques like gene-splicing. For example, Monsanto has created a variety known as BT corn, a pest-resistant plant. Any pests attempting to eat the corn plant will die since the pesticide is part of every cell of the plant.
Also, companies have patented these seeds and are able to control the seed production and reproduction. The potential harm of these new organisms, whose long term effect has not yet been determined, could be both devastating to humans and the environment.
So far Guatemala is free of GMOs, although we consume tons of this kind of corn in the form of international aid from the USA.
So the choice is yours but I think well-informed consumers will mean more ethical farmer. Something that now a days are far and few between.