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Organic certification, Hybrid vs. GMO's and our tomato varieties:
At this time we do not know of any tomato seeds being sold anywhere that have been "genetically modified". Our organic certification prohibits us from using any GMO seeds of any vegetable variety. We also make every effort possible to locate organic seeds for our tomatoes, herbs and vegetables. Most of our other plants, such as fruit trees and berries, are certified organically grown from our very reputable sources.
There is much confusion about the difference between Hybrid tomato plants, hybrid vegetable varieties and GMO varieties. Although many of our tomato plants are "Hybrid" varieties, which means they are cross bred by a "Mother" tomato and a "Father" tomato (by the birds and bees method) so that the best traits of each are preserved, this does not mean they are GMO and they are completely safe to grow and eat.
Genetically modified seeds of soybeans and corn are being made by altering the actual DNA of the plant and producing seeds from that plant. This is done in special laboratories to change the plant characteristics to resist diseases or insects hoping to reduce our dependance on pesticides. This modification is marketed primarily to large commercial farms wanting to use less toxic materials to kill pests such as corn earworms.
Although this is a commendable venture, we aren't sure this is the best way to go about it. Also, if a food source for a particular insect is eliminated, and therefore that insect population starves to death, the next one on the food chain may starve and on up or on down until our environment is detrimentally affected by the loss of a species, which may be as simple as a common bacteria, necessary for our survival. Also, "Roundup Ready" soybeans actually allows for more herbicide spraying, not less, which completely negates the argument for GMO's.
Our approach to gardening is to only kill what is absolutely necessary to prevent serious damage in the garden using the least toxic method to other species of insects and fish. Keeping bees and fish healthy and happy keeps us healthy too. Although it is unlikely that genetic modifications would affect the eater of the product, the environmental effects are still very uncertain at this time.
A Short History of GMO Tomatoes from the GMO Compass web site: (http://www.gmo-compass.org)
A list of GMO products currently being grown: http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/GMonMarketUS.pdf
The tomato has been a symbol for genetically modified food for many years. In 1994, genetically modified tomatoes hit the market in the US as the first commercially available genetically modified crop. GM tomatoes have since disappeared.
This transgenic tomato (FlavrSavr) had a "deactivated" gene. This meant that the tomato plant was no longer able to produce polygalacturonase, an enzyme involved in fruit softening. The premise was that tomatoes could be left to ripen on the vine and still have a long shelf life, thus allowing them to develop their full flavour. Normally, tomatoes are picked well before they are ripe and are then ripened artificially.
Tomatoes were the first genetically modified foods to come on the market. Today, they are no longer cultivated.
These GM tomatoes, however, did not meet their expectations. Although they were approved in the US and several other countries, tomatoes with delayed ripening have disappeared from the market after peaking in 1998. At this point, no genetically modified tomatoes are being grown commercially in North America or in Europe.
Genetically modified tomatoes are not approved in Europe. Applications that were submitted several years ago have since been withdrawn.
Tomato puree made from GM tomatoes was a big success in the mid 90s in Great Britain. The fact that the tomatoes were of GM origin was clearly stated on the label. Later, an application was submitted for approval according to EU laws on genetic engineering. Although EU committees of scientific experts assessed the tomato puree as harmless, Member States could not come to an agreement. The application was withdrawn in 2002.
Scientists are still working with genetic tools to give tomatoes new traits like resistance to insect pests and fungal and viral pathogens. Other projects aim to enrich tomatoes with substances offering health benefits. All of these products, however, are still many steps away from receiving authorization.
Today in the EU, all tomatoes found on the market, whether they're fresh or canned, are not genetically modified. Even the tomato that stayed red and firm after three weeks in the fridge isn't a GMO.