GMO/GE Free Seeds vs. Organic Seeds

What’s the Difference?

Recently, there has been more in the media about organic seeds and GMO free seeds.  What is the difference between the two and what should you look for when purchasing your seeds? We hope to clear that up a little bit…

GMO’s or Genetically Modified Organisms are any of the group of living organisms with a different, even slightly different, DNA than their parents.  By this definition, each of us is considered a GMO.  When two parents combine to form something new, a GMO is formed.  GE or Genetically Engineered seeds are a form of a GMO.  Genetically engineered crops and seeds are a variety of “superfoods” if you will, in that they are resistant to insects, they have vitamins and minerals added or they are resistant to pesticides.  They are not crops or seeds that would occur in nature and are created in a laboratory. 
GMO’s introduce a completely foreign genetic material to a seed or crop generally in order to create some resistance to insects or herbicides or improve growth or production.  In essence, these crops are genetically modified to make growing easier for the farmer or grower.  The farmer can concentrate on the plant itself instead of using herbicides or pesticides to kill weeds and insects.  The result for the grower is a much better and larger yield.  However, the addition of these genetically modified ‘benefits’ can cause concern for the consumer, including health concerns when eating a diet of genetically engineered foods.  With this knowledge, consumers have begun to look for foods which have not been genetically altered to eat and grow.  Retailers have responded offering GMO free seeds and foods.  These seeds although not modified, are not necessarily organic.
Organic seeds are defined as follows by Seeds of Change (an organic seed company) “100% certified organic seeds are harvested from plants grown without synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides and therefore, harbor no residues from these chemicals. Organically grown seed produces hearty, robust plants already adapted to organic growing conditions.”  Organic seeds are free of pesticides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers in every step of the growing/production process. 
In a nutshell, all organic seeds are GMO free but not all GMO free seeds are organic.
Organic seeds are found in a much larger variety these days and much more readily available at the retail garden centers.  Renee’s Garden and Botanical Interests are two companies, among others, which have a large offering of organic seeds.  Both offer organic vegetable, fruit and herb seeds.  Botanical Interests offers flower seeds that are organic as well.  Both companies also have excellent resources for planting guides, attracting pollinators and beneficials and of course recipies.