Rebuttal to Healthy Home Economist Blog

From William A Dam, President of William Dam Seeds Ltd
 
In the past years, we as a seed company and an industry have been quiet. Many bloggers and individuals on the internet have been spreading rumours and falsehoods about our industry and Monsanto. Today this changes.
 
First of all: I assure our customers: We are not owned by Monsanto - we are a family business - four generations working currently. I personally am saddened that people would come to this conclusion despite what we note in our catalogue about our family values. Besides, I'm sure Monsanto would not want to purchase us - we work way too many hours to be profitable for a multi-national.
 
I was raised in a time before Social Media - but by no means am I naive of the technology. But I was raised that when you attack a person's reputation you better have your facts straight. You cannot slander others - this is just wrong and causes pain to others. I call on all bloggers, tweeters etc... - check for facts, build each other up, don't knock each other down - this is Bullying!
 
On January 23, Sarah from "The Healthy Home Economist" wrote a blog published as "The Four Steps Required to Keep Monsanto OUT of your Garden". The problem is she does not check her facts and she seems to back facts up from other bloggers. There has been rumblings about this in the past – see http://www.nwedible.com/2012/12/a-brief-history-of-monsanto-and-seed-houses-who-got-screwed.html So here is the rebuttal:
 
Here is her Blog and my rebuttals in Red
Seed catalogs are starting to arrive in mailboxes across the Northern Hemisphere with home gardeners everywhere starting to plan which seeds they will sow in their spring gardens.
 
This is True
 
A positive trend in recent years is the growing number of gardening enthusiasts choosing to plant gardens using organic and/or heirloom seeds.
 
This is mostly True - seed sales of hybrids are way up and while heirloom sales have increased, hybrid sales have increased 10 fold.
 
What most of these home gardeners don't realize is that corporate behemoth and GMO titan Monsanto has been gobbling up seed companies faster than a caterpillar can munch a tomato plant!
 
The Fact: As we are talking about vegetable gardening - Monsanto has not purchased any retail vegetable seed companies. In the Vegetable seed industry, Monsanto owns Seminis and has only purchased DeRuiter. Monsanto does not control the vegetable seed industry. They may be a big player in certain crops but by far not the controller. There are hundreds of breeder / grower firms producing a wide gamut of varieties, many of which with we do business. These are businesses of all sizes with good people working just like us. See this link for the many seed companies:
 
 
This means that a home gardener could purchase organic and/or heirloom seeds and unknowingly be supporting the development and proliferation of genetically modified crops because Monsanto now owns many of the names of the seeds themselves!
 
The fact: Monsanto does not own any names of heirloom seeds. Where does the writer come up with this? Her fact link below is a blog – it has no facts. The law states otherwise. Sarah uses the blog – http://www.occupymonsanto360.org/2012/03/06/monsanto-free-seed-companies/ I checked the trademark registry and can not find any support for this point.
 
Planting a sustainable home garden is much more than just choosing certified organic seeds and seedlings because Monsanto has cleverly positioned itself to make money off the home gardening trend whenever and wherever the seeds whose names they own are purchased.
 
Again, Not true! The fact: Monsanto as a corporation makes its money is in technology and large farming – we make up such a small percentage of the overall seed industry. If this was true – why does Seminis keep reducing its listing of home garden varieties?
 
Does this mean that even if you buy organic or heirloom seeds from a completely independent company but Monsanto owns the name of that seed, some of your purchase is going into the pockets of the bad guys? Yes, it does.
 
Again Where are the facts for this – I am a Seedsman. Prove to me Monsanto has any interest in the above.
 
Surprise! In addition, Monsanto has quietly been gobbling up many of the organic seed companies
 
Please Sarah – you have to be ashamed of yourself for not getting facts. Where do you get this from? This shows a lack of understanding of our industry. Monsanto does not own any organic vegetable seed companies – Period!!!
 
so home gardeners would do well to bone up on where to purchase their seeds so they aren't inadvertently doing business with companies that maintain a working relationship with Monsanto-Seminis or were acquired by them. My friend Beth in Minnesota, an avid food researcher, has been digging around to figure out the best ways to buy seeds and seedlings for your home garden without one red cent going to Monsanto. Buying Organic or Heirloom Seeds Without Supporting Monsanto Beth has done her very best to make sure the information she has uncovered is current and pertinent with updated listings for the 2013 growing season. Here are the steps she recommends for those who want to truly strike a blow for sustainability in every way with their home gardens:
 
1. Avoid buying from the seed companies Monsanto has devoured. Here's a list of the seed companies they bought out: http://www.seminis.com/global/us/products/Pages/Home-Garden.aspx
 
This is not true! These are companies that sell some seed from Seminis - they are not owned by Monsanto. This is only a small list. Most major retail seed companies sell some varieties from Seminis. In the Wholesale vegetable seed business, Monsanto owns Seminis which is comprised up of firms that were purchased mostly all pre- 2005. Seminis is in the wholesale seed business, not retail.
 
2. Buy from this list of companies Monsanto HASN'T bought: http://www.occupymonsanto360.org/2012/03/06/monsanto-free-seed-companies/
 
Again untrue - see above. A lot of the companies on the list, with exception of High Mowing and Territorial, are small micro business that sell into a niche market. Many of the Canadian companies on this list buy seed from companies like ourselves.
 
3. Avoid certain heirloom varieties because Monsanto now owns the names of these seeds. A short article explaining this issue: http://www.occupymonsanto360.org/2012/03/17/monsanto-owned-seednames/
 
Monsanto has no interest in owning heirloom varieties. Seminis holds one of the largest private collections of public parent material. Heirlooms are public varieties cannot be owned by anyone so this makes no sense. Check your own trademark registry – I did. SPAN>
 
4. Ask seed companies if they have taken the Safe Seed Pledge. Here's a list of companies that have done so: http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/ViewPage.aspx?pageId=261
 
We are on this list along with many of our competitors. The connection between this list and Monsanto is not relevant.
 
More Background on Monsanto's Quest for World Seed Domination Monsanto's corporate quest is clearly to make money on each and every one of us whether we choose to eat supermarket frankenfoods produced with abominable, patented GM crops or carefully plant and tend an organic garden at home. Here's some background information on the subject you may find interesting as well as enlightening: http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/02/forewarned-is-forearmed-veggie-varieties-owned-by-monsanto/
If you are a home gardener and have information to contribute regarding these steps, please add to the discussion in the comments section. Also, please spread the word via gardening forums you may participate in that folks need to be very careful when seed sourcing for their spring gardens this year else they might be unknowingly supporting Monsanto. Let's make this the year when Monsanto's grip on the worldwide seed market loosens and the movement to seed sustainability gains momentum!
 
The truth is : Your information is flawed and you have not done your homework Sarah to check your facts. As a journalist, I would expect from you to back your information with facts not Blogs. Gardening is supposed to be enjoyable!
 
Here is more to read from our company:
 
Our association with Seminis goes back as far as 50 years when we distributed Royal Sluis and Petoseed varieties. The current varieties from Seminis that we carry today were all developed by Royal Sluis and Peto before Monsanto purchased Seminis. If we decide to part ways with Seminis, it has to be for the right reasons. We as an organic community cannot become the bully.
 
Monsanto entered the vegetable seed business (like many other multinational companies are) in 2005 with the purchase of Seminis and also De Ruiter. Since then they have not purchased any other wholesale or retail vegetable seed companies. They have no interest being in the retail markets, therefore do not own any companies like ourselves.
 
Monsanto is not the only seed company selling GMO seed or breeding GMO seed. Most of the technology is being developed by University and University related companies - Monsanto in turn develops very little. They mostly buy technology. See the following link about the new transgenic tomato breeding in Florida.
 
Monsanto does not control the vegetable seed industry, they may be a big player in certain crops but by far not the controller. There are hundreds of breeder / grower firms producing a wide gamut of varieties, many of which with we do business. These are businesses of all sizes with good people working just like us. See this link for the listings of varieties that show the many seed breeder/grower:
 
We are not for GMOs and never will sell them. This is a very scientific issue and can be debated from both camps.
 
Bill Dam
William Dam Seeds Ltd.

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