Know Your Seed Labels: A Guide to Seed Types

Confused about seed labels and want to what they mean? See our handy guide to find out the importance of seed freedom:

Open-pollinated seeds are the result of natural pollination by the same variety of plant (either self-pollination or pollination by birds, or insects, winds, even hand pollination). These will have similar characteristics as their parents and therefore are stable & can be grown / saved true-to-type year after year.

Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated varieties that have been selected, cultivated and passed down over generations and therefore also exhibit more resilience and adaptation in the environment they've been grown.

Hybrid Seeds are the first generation result of a controlled crossing between two different varieties of plants in order to immediately produce desired traits. These, when grown again however won't produce the same characteristics as the parent plant and therefore can encourage dependency on seed companies over time.

Treated seeds are usually coated with pesticide or fungicide and this applies to most of the conventional seed packets in the market (although there are also organic seed treatment methods). This is used to target specific seed or soil borne pathogens.

GMO seeds (Genetically modified organisms) are produced when the genetic makeup of a specific plant is  altered by the introduction of DNA from a different lifeform or species in a laboratory, in order to produce desired traits. GM seeds are solely owned and patented by corporations, often leading to restrictions in the saving of these seeds. 

Why it’s  important to know your seed labels!

In many ways, seed is being used to monopolize our food system. 

Four corporations control more than 60% of the global seed market. These are the same agrochemical companies that produce 75% of the world's pesticides (as of 2015). Seed dependence from these companies, as is the case with many farmers worldwide as a result of subsidy programs, may also lead to a reliance to chemical inputs over time (to counteract degradation of the soil or possible fertilizer-dependency issues). This is coupled with possible health and environmental risks that are also tied to GM products. 

"Seed is the source of life and the first link in the food chain. Control of seeds means control of our lives, our food and our freedom... The time has come to reclaim the stolen harvest and celebrate the growing and giving of good food as the highest gift and the most revolutionary act."  -Vandana Shiva

We carry a selection of local OPV seeds grown by the community at Benguet Association of Seed Savers. Shop them here (add link)

To access beginner gardening resources and learn more about seed types & seed sovereignty, click here. We've also created a Youtube playlist here!

Want to start your own solidarity garden? Learn how with our Community of Practice Toolkit!

Learn more about Global Seed Savers here.


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