Heirloom and Hybrid Plants

 

 

The survival of the heirloom varieties of domesticated plants is so important because it contributes to the genetic diversity of breeding plants.  Certain heirloom varieties are suddenly becoming extinct and their fewer selections of certain seeds available.  If there is only one kind of breed, for example, a tomato then we all would miss the taste, flavor and smell of a heirloom tomato. It is important to organizations like Seed Saver Exchange which has cultivated to preserve and distribute heirloom varieties for all of our future generations to share. (Bidlack 2014)   Heirlooms varieties are very important to organic crop farmer market producers and growers.  Having Heirlooms seeds brings tremendous monetary value to their crops and further growth.


Some of the heirloom varieties strengths are their distinctive taste, variety and flavor,  their adaptability to produce a crop under many different environments conditions, their variety mixtures of genotypes and having a open-pollination during seed production which does not require as many chemicals. (Bidlack 2014) There are some weaknesses to heirloom varieties such as the trouble of increasing productivity, they are more susceptible to diseases and it has no uniformity.  Heirlooms may differ greatly in size, shape, or other traits. 


Hybrid plants are not genetically modified plants, but they are controlled pollination plants whose heterozygous offspring of two parents that differ in one or more inheritable characteristics. (Bidlack 2014)  The strengths of hybrid plants are the production yields of crop are very high, disease and pest resistant, has greater plant uniformity, more consistent quality, and the combination of the superior traits of two outstanding parents.  (Porter, 2013) Hybrid plants greatest weakness is that hybrids will not produce the same plant the following year because most varieties are not self-sustaining. (Tripepi 2014) Thus, growers cannot collect and use their own seed, but must purchase new seed each year.  (Tripepi 2014) 


The Agribusiness is a big money industry that corporations such as Monsanto, are trying to buy out the small farmers and control the commercial seedling industry.  Farming Corporations  owns about 80-90% of the seedlings for distribution and a lot of the seedling are hybrid seeds.  As you know that with hybrid seeds you can't collect them and use them the next year.  You will have to purchase seed each year which makes small independent farmers very depended on large farming corporations.  A transgenic plant is a plant that contains recombinant DNA otherwise know as GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms).  Transgenic plants have been causing a lot of problems, especially for the farmers.  One such lawsuit case that proves the problems with transgenic plants  was the Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms.  This was the first ruling case from the United States Supreme Court on genetically engineered crops. (Koons 2010)


In this U.S. Supreme Court case,  it was decided 7-1 in favor of Monsanto. This decision allowed Monsanto to sell genetically modified alfalfa seeds to farmers and allowed farmers to plant them, grow crops, harvest them, and sell the crop into the food supply. This case came about because the use of the seeds was approved by regulatory authorities and the approval was challenged in district court by Geertson Seed Farms and other groups who were concerned that the genetically modified alfalfa would spread too easily.  From this challenge, the resulting ruling was that Geertson Seed Farms won. But, Monsanto appealed the district court decision and lost, and appealed again to the Supreme Court, where Monsanto won, thus upholding the original approval and allowing the seeds to be sold (Koons 2010)


The environmental implication effects that transgenic plants is the herbicide -resistance gene where it cannot die and because it is resistance to any herbicide.  It can become a super weed where it can take over crops  by killing them and continuous spread.

 

Currently, there are also questions about the human health issues with transgenic plants where it is causing food allergy reactions. (Bidlack 2014)  There are no long term proof research studies on how the consumption of transgenic plants is affecting the human body.  


I feel that there must be a better way to increase crop production instead of transgenic and hybrid plants.  With further research on alternative organic crops that is being done hopefully in the future, we will no longer have to rely on GMO's and Hybrids.


References


Porter, J (2013), Seed Saving: Knowing the Difference Between Hybrids, Heirlooms, and Open-Pollinated Plants, West Virginia University Extension Service - Website: http://blogs.extension.org/mastergardener/2013/03/21/saving-seeds-harvesting-the-future/


Bidlack, J., Jansky, S. (2014) Stern's Introductory Plant Biology, (New York, NY:  The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.), 


Tripepi, R, et. al. (2014) Basic Botany, Idaho Master Gardener - University of Idaho Extension, 3-5, 3-6


Koons, J. (21 June 2010) Supreme Court Lifts Ban on Planting GM Alfalfa , New York Times, Energy & Environment, Retrieved 28 August 2012


Teitel, Martin. "Endangered dinner." Sierra Jan.-Feb. 1996: 12+. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 June 2015. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA17972150&v=2.1&u=lirn12711
&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=2f8b7cf4666515e72c7420dd1f46b4b6
 

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I am Denine Rogers, MS, RDN, LD, FAND a integrative dietitian nutritionist and wellness coach. So excited that you are viewing my blog!

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