Tag Archive | Monsanto

Bye, Bye Mr. Ichiban: The Discontinuation of Ichiban Hybrid Eggplant


“Dear Sir,

I’m an avid reader of your blog and I would like to know the answer to why I can’t buy ichiban eggplant this year. It’s the best.  Was it a crop failure?

Joe”

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Hi Joe,

I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but it is most likely that we will have to have a funeral for your dear friend, Ichiban Hybrid Eggplant.  He is no more.

If you have heard any rumblings through the gardening community in the last five years, then it was without a doubt about how Monsanto had tapped into the home gardening market by acquisitioning Seminis Seeds (to read more on this, click here).  This buyout has resulted in a number of changes, including the correction of varietial names that were illegally sold by Seminis to increase their offerings and desireability (see here) and the discontinuation of many varieties that were only offered to home gardeners.

Ichiban Hybrid is a casualty of this process, as it was not versatile enough to be offered for commercial growers.  The fruits are more prone to scarring and the plants are not as disease resistant as other types.

For now, many companies have replaced Ichiban Hybrid with Millionaire Hybrid (offered by American Takii Seeds and distributed through many seed catalogs like Jung and Burpee).  I have tried it in my trial gardens in 2010, but found that it lacked the flavor of the Ichiban and didn’t seem to produce as well in a side-by-side comparison.

The only hope of Ichiban Hybrid coming back from the ‘dead’ is if Monsanto/Seminis sell the breeding rights to another seed producer, or if  they bring it back themselves.  The likelihood of this occurring is about as good as pigs flying.

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Say No to GMOs!


For those that may be on the fence about the debate over Monsanto and it’s mission to introduce Genetically Modified Organisms to every corner of the Earth, here are two videos that may interest you:

 

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

One for the Good Guys: Temporary Derailment of Monsanto Genetically Modified Beets


Every so often in our country, good overcomes evil.

… at least for a short time.

Recently, Monsanto was stopped from its illegal and dangerous planting of hundreds of acres of genetically modified (GM) beets. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ordered that the plants “be removed from the ground”. Much of the blame was placed on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for granting a permit without finishing the environmental impact study on what the effects of genetically modified beets would do to the environment and those who consume it.

The seeds in question was Roundup-Ready beets, which have been well documented to result in ever heavier spraying of the Roundup pesticide, glyphosate. This was the first crop of beet seed plants to be planted beyond the heavily-guarded Monsanto facilities.

The preliminary injunction (PDF file) was issued in response to a filing by the Center for Food Safety, the Organic Seed Alliance, the Sierra Club, and High Mowing Organic Seeds, which challenged the USDA’s decision to issue permits for Monsanto to plant these crops. They claimed—and the judge agreed—that the National Environmental Policy Act, the Plant Protection Act, the 2008 Farm Bill, and the Administrative Procedure Act were all violated by the USDA’s permitting planting of the seeds.

In his conclusion, the judge wrote, “The legality of [the] defendants’ conduct does not even appear to be a close question.” So he ordered that the plants be torn out of the ground.

Lead counsel for the plaintiffs, Paul Achitoff of Earthjustice, stated

USDA thumbed its nose at the judicial system and the public by allowing this crop to be grown without any environmental review. Herbicide resistant crops just like this have been shown to result in more toxic chemicals in our soil and water. USDA has shown no regard for the environmental laws, and we’re pleased that Judge White ordered the appropriate response.

The potential harm of Roundup Ready crops is extensive. Farmers who plant these crops spray far more Roundup as a result, resulting in soil changes that promote root rot. The chemical can remain in the soil for up to 140 days, which means that it can be found in the plant, including parts used for food. Agricultural workers exposed to it are three times more likely to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer. They experience more low birth weight babies, infertility, and miscarriages. Roundup is known to cause deformities in amphibians. It causes low sperm count in rabbits and cell death in human embryos.

Roundup Ready crops have already escaped into the wild and interbred with natural plants, resulting in Roundup-resistant plants that are spreading and creating an enormous weed problem.

Though sold as a safe weed killer, experience has shown that it’s highly toxic to humans and the environment. Roundup Ready crops are significantly exacerbating the problem.

While savoring this success, it’s important to understand that this is only a skirmish in a much bigger war. From the beginning, the USDA has been determined to allow these plants to be grown. The only reason the USDA even put on a show about doing an environmental impact study, as required by law, was lawsuits filed by Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety. Even in the face of a court order to do the study, the USDA went ahead and approved the GM beets before doing it.

Obviously, the USDA stands shoulder to shoulder with Monsanto, and has little interest in the public’s welfare or wishes. The US Supreme Court has indicated that they will likely approve partial deregulation of GM alfalfa. The USDA then drafted a decision that would allow them to approve Roundup Ready beets under so-called “strict permitting conditions”. Considering the USDA’s prior behavior on this issue, it seems unlikely that it would be anything other than granting free rein to anyone who is willing to pay whatever fees they charge.

The USDA is a puppet of Monsanto. The agency isn’t interested in following laws designed to protect the environment or the people.

Monsanto says that they plan to apply for an immediate stay of the order and appeal to the Court of Appeals. In the face of massive evidence to the contrary, Monsanto’s general counsel, David Snively, stated, “With due respect, we believe the court’s action overlooked the factual evidence presented that no harm would be caused by these plantings, and is plainly inconsistent with the established law as recently announced by the U.S. Supreme Court. We intend to seek an immediate stay of this ruling and appeal to the Court of Appeals.”

We can only hope that they aren’t successful.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Veggie by Any Other Name: Name Changes Hit the Home Gardener Market


“Dear Horticulture Talk,

Last year you wrote that certain varieties were getting different names.  Are there any that will have different names for 2011?

Thanks,

George”

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Yes, indeed, there will be changes for 2011.  For these varieties, you can thank the formerly questionable naming practices of Seminis seed (pre-Monsanto).

As discussed in my previous entry on Fat ‘n Sassy Peppers, the naming scheme developed under the Seminis was that the home garden market is totally different than the commercial market in that people want ‘cute’ names.  The cuter the name, the easier it is to sell.  So, Seminis ‘dumbed down’ their names so gardeners like you and I could feel warm fuzzies inside when we had our little ‘sweeties’ growing in the garden.

*gag*

Essentially, plant breeders at Seminis were encouraged to market seed under different names.  The true name was the commercial name and was marketed at a premium because a new disease resistant or long shelf life variety for a commercial growers could mean thousands of dollars per pound prices.  Home garden markets are not able to accept such high prices, so the names new name was given and it sold under the new name to the home garden seed companies (and thus their customers).  As you may have caught on, that is a HUGE!!! no-no in the various laws developed by the Federal Seed Act (FSA) and the USDA.

Here are the many varieties that are getting a ‘makeover:

–Eggplant Epic (formerly Dusky)

–Pepper Mitla (formerly Jalapa)

–Pepper Balada (formerly Kung Pao)

–Pepper King Arthur (formerly Fat and Sassy)

–Pepper Biscayne (formerly Sweet Cubanella)

–Squash Commander (formerly Aristocrat)

–Baron Hybrid (formerly Red Beauty Hybrid)

–Italico (formerly Spanish Spice)

As always, I’m sure more will be coming for 2012, but this is at least enough to keep you going this next year.

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My Fat ‘n Sassy-ies Are No More?


“Dear Horticulturist, I buy my seed from a few different seed companies.  I’m gearing up for my winter crop and recently tried to purchase some Fat N Sassy Pepper seed.  The companies I buy from always have it and now they tell me that it has been discontinued.  Really?  From what I know of it, it’s a rather popular one.  Are you aware why this variety is no longer on the market?  Thanks, John”

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Dear John,

Thanks for your email.  I have good news and bad news for you.  Let’s go with the bad news first:

–The Bad:  No one will ever see Fat ‘n  Sassy on the market again.  It has been discontinued by that name.  The name was a marketing scheme developed by Seminis while still their own company.  Not sure on all the details, but basically what they did was take a variety that they were marketing as a commercial variety, give it a new name, and sell it under the new name to the home garden seed companies (and thus their customers).  As you may have caught on, that is a HUGE!!! no-no in the various laws developed by the Federal Seed Act (FSA) and the USDA.

–The Good:  I usually have nothing good to say about Monsanto, but this is an occasion where I will give them a bit of praise.  Whether they just happened to realize that Seminis had some shady naming practices or they got a knock on the door from Uncle Sam and busted for shady naming practices, we don’t know.  But either way, they are now doing the right thing and calling the product by its correct name.

And so, we come to the name change.  The –real– name of Fat ‘n Sassy is… King Arthur Hybrid.

Are you disappointed?  If so, you join me and others by having your image of plump, juicy peppers burst by King Arthur’s Excalibor sword!

For those of you that are not familiar with this variety by either name…

The cultivar, ‘King Arthur’ is a widely adapted bell pepper with resistance to some virus’ and bacterial spot races. The largest early pepper. Cold weather can cause misformed fruits. To keep compact, pinch leaves on young plants. Full sun and monthly fertilizer treatment produces best growth and fruiting results. C. annuum is the most cultivated pepper in the world, both commercially and in home gardens. They are relatively easy to grow, as long as they receive plenty of moisture and nutrients, are not subjected to cold and receive plenty of sunshine. They grow in an endless variety of colors and range in shape from small round cherry peppers to long, pencil-shaped cayenne varieties. Seeds should be started indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost. When the temperature reaches 70 F, transplant 12 to 16 inches apart, fertilize, and again when they are 12 inches tall. The pepper is rich is goodness, one medium-sized pepper will provide almost the entire daily adult of vitamin C requirement and also contains vitamins such a B1, B2 and D, plus numerous minerals.

I hope this helps clear up the mystery.  As a word of warning, Fat ‘n Sassy is not the only one you will see going through a name change.  Also on the renaming chopping block are many favorites like Dusky Eggplant, Kung Pao Pepper, and many more.

 

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Supreme Court Allows Roundup Ready Alfalfa Planting


The Supreme Court supported farmers in a 7-1 ruling today; the court overturned a lower court’s order that has prohibited farmers from planting Roundup Ready alfalfa for the past three years.

“This Supreme Court ruling is important for every American farmer, not just alfalfa growers,” said David F. Snively, Monsanto’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “All growers can rely on the expertise of USDA, and trust that future challenges to biotech approvals must now be based on scientific facts, not speculation.”

The opinion of the court, written by Justice Samuel Alito, sharply stated that the district court abused its discretion when it prohibited the planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa in 2007. Today’s ruling will allow USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to take appropriate action to allow further planting while they complete the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The opinion concluded that the lower court’s injunction on Roundup Ready alfalfa “cannot stand.”

The case will now be remanded to the lower court with the instruction to allow APHIS to decide which interim measures will need to be established in order to allow growers to resume planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa.

“This is exceptionally good news received in time for the next planting season. Farmers have been waiting to hear this for quite some time,” said Steve Welker, Monsanto’s Alfalfa business lead. “We have Roundup Ready alfalfa seed ready to deliver and await USDA guidance on its release. Our goal is to have everything in place for growers to plant in fall 2010.”

Roundup Ready alfalfa successfully completed a food safety review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and was granted non-regulated status by USDA in 2005. A separate review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found the use of Roundup on the crop to be safe. Prior to the injunction, Roundup Ready alfalfa was planted by approximately 5,500 growers across more than 220,000 acres. Alfalfa is the fourth-largest crop grown in the U.S. with 23 million acres grown in 48 U.S. states annually.

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.