When asked the question, “What are genetically engineered seeds?” we explain that scientists can now bypass the traditional breeding methods of manipulating plant characteristics. Rather than cross-breeding plants, they can work directly with plant DNA — the genetic code containing the blueprint for all characteristics. Scientists can now take pieces of this code with the qualities they want and insert them into any cell.

Genetic modification of seeds primarily occurs to make plants resistant to herbicides or pesticides. The field can then be sprayed, leaving the modified plants unharmed. This process is used mainly in crops grown on an industrial scale. Like coating seeds with pesticides or other chemicals, this process, in our opinion, is fraught with problems.

Genetically modified seeds are nearly unheard of outside conventional industrial agriculture, and are not available to the home gardener at this time. The industry is highly regulated — and the modification is very much the selling point of such seeds. It would be nearly impossible to mistakenly buy GM seeds. The crops that have been impacted by this science are ones that are grown on a massive scale: corn, soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets, alfalfa, and a couple of others. But active research is underway to explore other potential crops, from tomatoes to potatoes.

At this time, these crops are not available for the public to grow at home. We make the non-GMO statement on our seed packets as a commitment to our customers that we value their concerns.

Genetic science has much potential to produce good outcomes. That said, the way that these crops have been brought onto the market raises understandable concerns. We question the method of agriculture that depends so heavily on chemicals like glyphosate and neonicotinoids — chemicals produced by the parties that have done the bulk of GMO seed development. We believe that there are better, simpler, more sustainable models of agriculture.