17 April 2015

O is for Open-pollinated

Since my book characters moved to the country and started an organic enterprise named Viridian Farms, they've learned a lot about different kinds of crops, and specifically seeds. There's a lot of confusion these days, even among farmers and gardeners, and certainly within the non-agricultural public. Let's look at some definitions:

Open-pollinated seeds: pollinating is achieved by insects, birds, wind, or other natural mechanisms. The seeds of open-pollinated plants will produce new generations of those plants.

Hybrid seeds: cross-pollinated plants of two in-bred strains that improve the characteristics of the plant, but only for one generation. The next generation is unlikely to breed the desired characteristics.

GMO seedsA Genetically Modified Organism 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. 

Patented seeds: GM seeds are not the only seeds with Intellectual Property Rights. Almost all conventional (non-GM) and organic hybrid seeds are patented and cannot be saved for use in the next planting season.

As the Viridian Farms crew begins growing vegetables for sale at city farmers markets, they'll idealistically begin with open-pollinated seeds. But as the venture proves more challenging than anticipated, they might find themselves considering the use of patented, organic hybrid seed stocks.

Certainly they'll butt heads with farmers around them who are planting Monsanto crops. I'll discuss that a bit more when I write about the Colorado Right to Farm laws, which create the basis for murder in my mystery.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...