Monsanto Buys Up Heirloom Seed Suppliers

Maddy Harland
Monday, 30th June 2014

Monsanto is buying up heirloom seed companies and trademarks. Maddy Harland discovers who is buying what and how to avoid Monsanto. She explores why what we buy can be a form of positive activism.

The NM Tree and Garden Center located in Rio Rancho, New Mexico has discovered that Monsanto is buying heirloom seed companies. They are also buying the trademarks to a number of heirloom seeds. This means that you may think you are supporting an heirloom seed company but in reality the company is owned by Monsanto. The seeds themselves are still non-GMO and heirloom and they can be saved at the end of the harvest and resown next season, but you are still giving money to Monsanto.

Monsanto are also buying trademarks so that no matter where you buy certain seeds, they get money from it. Here is a LINK to the trademarks and seed companies Monsanto supply and ones that they do not supply in the USA.

Here's some tips on how to avoid Monsanto.

We need to all do our research when buying seeds (or any organically labelled product for that matter).

In Europe we have witnessed a proactive corporate programme to buy up ethical/organic companies. L'Oreal now own The Body Shop and have a poor record for animal testing. Green and Blacks fair trade chocolate were bought in 2006 by Cadbury who were then acquired by Kraft Foods, one of the huge food multi-nationals. Rachel's Organic, founded by Welsh farmers, is now a subsidiary of French company Lactalis.

This is a deliberate strategy - so much so that Triodos Bank actually have a European fund to help small organic companies stay independent and resist being bought up.

Why are small organic/heirloom marques being acquired by the big global corporates? Firstly, there is a commercial market for them. Secondly, what you own you can control. Thirdly, if you are a vast industrial magnate and own one of these companies you can marginalise its market if you wish.

Ethics in Action

As consumers we have the power to first support our local producers and make sure they stay in business. Then we need to support larger ethical, organic companies like Yeo Valley who produce organic dairy products and still remain independently owned by the family who started the company. Sometimes this means spending more money on a product. But we have a choice: Do we want to eat a chocolate bar with cacao picked by children in a system that pays the farmer a subsistence wage or do we want an artisanal bar that costs much more but tastes better and is fairly traded? Do we buy yoghurt from a large corporate who is trading under an acquired organic brand or from a local supplier or a family owned national organic supplier?

Permaculture is all about Earthcare, Peoplecare and Fair shares. It is therefore not only about what we grow but what we buy. Shopping is a form of activism. We all do it to a greater or lesser degree. We have to activate our consciences.

About The NM Tree and Garden Center

The NM Tree and Garden Center is a small nursery located in Rio Rancho. NMT & GC is owned by a husband and wife partnership who have always loved gardening and growing. Everything they grow is organic and sustainable. All their seeds are heirloom and will never be GMO. We hope this blog will inspire you to start growing your own food and planting trees. Contact us with any questions and for ordering information.

Monsanto Takeover in Europe

Europe may have opened the gates to Monsanto to grow genetically modified crops. Due to an accepted proposal by the EU Environment Council last week, GM crops could be planted across Europe as soon as next year.

Even worse, the proposal could give Monsanto and other biotech giants the power to overturn decisions made by democratically-elected governments to ban GM crops.

The European Parliament can still reject this decision. With MEPs voting on the issue soon, we need to make sure they hear from citizens across the continent to reject this Monsanto-backed proposal. Sign THIS PETITION to show our MEPs this is not what Europe wants.

Further Resources

Watch: Patrick Whitefield's tips for seed saving and making compost

FREE downloadable Guide to Seed Saving, Seed Stewardship & Seed Sovereignty

Top tips for seed saving

Collecting summer seeds


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Misae Richwoods |
July 5, 2014 - 12:37pm
Anyone know who owns the popular UK seed brands like Thompson & Morgan and Suttons?
Maddy Harland |
January 13, 2016 - 8:48pm
In 1999, Thompson and Morgan became part of International Garden Products Inc., of Boston, MA, USA. In May 2002 Thompson & Morgan returned to independent private ownership.
Victoria A. Scholfield Clark |
January 16, 2016 - 1:01am
While Burpee does not sell gmo seeds and say they never will, they STILL buy seeds from Seminis to sell to Burpee customers. Seminis is owned by Monsanto. So my money for seeds goes right back to Monsanto. I will never support a company who gives money to Monsanto. It is the same as buying Kashi organic cereal and it is owned by Kelloggs or Naked Juice is owned by Pepsi. I vote with my dollars and Burpee is a company who does business with a company owned by Monsanto. So please put them back on the list...

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