Open-Pollinated, Pure, Natural, Non-GMO
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. sells only Open-Pollinated, Pure, Natural, and Non- GMO seeds. This has been and will continue to be our guiding principle.
Why is this so? It’s because we are guided by the Golden Rule: we would not sell anything that we would consider potentially harmful to the health of others or the environment.
What do these terms mean? Here’s a brief overview.
Open pollination is achieved by insects, birds, wind, or other natural mechanisms. The seeds of open-pollinated plants will produce new generations of those plants. One of the bigger challenges in maintaining a strain by open pollination is avoiding introduction of pollen from other strains. Based on how broadly the pollen for the plant tends to disperse, it can be controlled to varying degrees by greenhouses, tall wall enclosures, or field isolation. Popular examples of plants produced under open pollination conditions include the heirloom tomato. Baker Creek is using tent enclosures in its own gardens to house the plants. Bumble bees are then introduced to control the pollination. This prevents cross-pollination from undesirable sources, as well as preventing cross-pollination between strains.
Pure and Natural seeds means that you start with a product that is untreated and free of pesticides. Although our seeds are not certified organic, they can certainly be used in an organic garden and many are grown by organic farmers. Also, they are not genetically modified.
In sharp contrast to hybrids, Heirlooms trace their ancestry back many years to a time when pesticides and herbicides were not in use. As Jere Gettle, the owner of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. puts it, “Basically, an Heirloom seed is one that has been passed down through families and is usually considered to be over 50 years old. Some varieties even date back to Thomas Jefferson’s garden and beyond.” Unlike hybrids or GMO’s which often have problems reproducing to the parent strain, Heirloom seeds can be saved and replanted, ensuring a trustworthy supply of family food year after year.
A Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) results from a discipline called Genetic Engineering which involves taking genes from one species and inserting them into another. For example, genes from an arctic flounder which has "antifreeze" properties may be spliced into a tomato to prevent frost damage. It is impossible to guide the insertion of the new gene. This can lead to unpredictable effects. Also, genes do not work in isolation but in highly complex relationships which are still not fully understood. Any change to the DNA at any point will affect it throughout its length in ways scientists cannot predict. The claim by some that they can is both arrogant and untrue.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.’s business continues to grow every year as the public interest in Heirloom fruits and vegetables has grown. Why? Two reasons, says Jere. First of all, good flavor. "People are really tired of the way produce in the supermarket tastes anymore," he says. "They remember it when they were kids, and they remember their grandma's garden. The tomatoes tasted good and the melons were sweet. Everything that they're bringing in from Mexico and California is picked green and shipped, and it just doesn't taste like it used to." Secondly, people are starting to get more concerned that the nutritional value is gone as well. "More and more allergies keep developing," says Jere. "And a lot of people think that might have something to do with genetic engineering, all the different chemicals they're spraying on the foods."
The bottom line: Because agri-business companies cannot positively assure the public through replicatable tests that eating GMO food is safe, then food that has been genetically modified should be labeled as such, as a bare minimum precaution. This would cost practically nothing and would give consumers a choice, instead of being unwittingly lulled into buying food that might be bad for them.
All outdoor GMO plantings should be banned outright due to cross-pollination and patent infringement issues that are causing a loss of genetic diversity and an increase in new weeds, and have threatened the livelihood of farmers.