Heirloom seeds to Terminator seeds?

The whole of Seed Saver’s Exchange’s seed collection is now part of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, an act that apparently gives biotech companies access to them so that they can make derivatives that they can then patent. This sounds alarming but I confess that I still don’t understand how we could ever keep a biotech company from doing this in the first place.

Rather than rehash the whole thing, go to this post and read the letter from Seed Saver’s Exchange’s founder Kent Whealy. It’s a long letter full of ugly business but it is worth reading.
Now, I wonder how many of the heirloom vegetables I am growing fall into this.
One new thing I learned by reading Kent’s letter is the concept of Terminator Seeds. The sci-fi geek in me perked up and I immediately pictured a tomato from the future sent back to kill my Brandywines! Seriously though, the concept of a Terminator Seed stinks of Big Business. A Terminator Seed is the seed from a plant that has been genetically modified to kill the embryo in the seed so that you and I cannot save the seed. Basically all the seeds in the plant are duds, blanks, sterile.
Another neat thing I learned about by reading the letter is the concept of Sacred Seeds. Apparently Native American nations have collections of seeds that have been preserved by them. Now these seeds are also part of this complicated Global Crop Diversity Trust deal.
Ok, so I am being a bit paranoid about this but don’t underestimate the things that people will do for money. After all, this has happened before when genetically engineered pollen blew over to farmers’ fields and then they got sued (this is alluded to in the letter). I’d hate to go to jail because I saved some seeds.
And you thought Blight was your only gardening problem!

Home and Garden Show

The Wichita Home and Garden Show starts tomorrow and although it is not strictly a gardening exhibition, some of the nurseries in town will have garden displays and maybe even some plants for sale.
I read in another blog about a Seed Exchange event and I am now thinking about approaching my local County Extension Office about hosting a seed exchange gathering of some sort. Now that would be cool. I am already thinking about the stamp I am going to design for my seed packets!