Ahhhhh, the glorious green month of May—fresh beginnings and exuberant renewal. Also, the month of some serious gardening. Here’s how you can ensure that it’s also ever so environmentally friendly. Genetically modified (GM) seed is a growing topic of concern among family farmers and backyard gardeners alike, so when you’re planning your food or flower garden this spring, think eco-friendly: Be on the lookout for nongenetically modified (NGM) seed to plant. NGM seed is natural. Unmodified. Such seed is variously described as “organic.” Or “untreated” with fungicide or insecticide. Or “non-hybrid,” not artificially cross-pollinated for such “desirable” characteristics as greater uniformity. Or “heirloom,” which means preserved for a number of years by home gardeners or family farmers, and “open-pollinated,” or naturally pollinated by the wind or insects.
Naturally, there are no current laws mandating that commercial seed be labeled GM or NGM, but here are two good reasons for that to change: Most of the big commercial seed companies’ seed is GM and therefore sterile; you can’t save it to produce future crops. And the safety of GM seed is unproven in the long run. But for the present, those concerns are decreasing for the home gardener.
Nowadays, you can pretty easily find NGM seeds, particularly those labeled “heirloom” at many local garden centers, home improvement stores, groceries, and natural food stores.
Local farmers’ markets are also a good source of organic produce and information.