Avoiding GMO/hybrids when ordering
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Erin Cameron
Posted on: April 12, 2010

I am a novice but ambitious gardener who is also a Registered Nurse and planning for large medicinal/culinary herb and vegetable gardens. I am trying to gather a collection of heirloom or at least non-GMO non-hybrid seeds or plants, and was given your catalogue at a local seed sale yesterday.

I was using the "SowNatural" list from your website as it states none of the plants are hybrids, however plants like "Basil, Nufar F1" are on the list despite its clear description of being a hybrid in the catalogue.

The term hybrid in this instance is used in a different sense. All of our sweet basils are the same species. However since the sweet basils have been in cultivation for so long and special strains are the pride and joy of different regions of the world, we actually talked of a hybrid of different strains of the same species. In nature these sort of crosses would occur on their own and result in hybrid vigor even though we are not dealing with a hybrid between different species (the usual sense of the term). Man has artificially reproductively isolated these strains to retain their special characteristics and get a more uniform crop.

I am just wondering if there is a dependable way of selecting seeds from the catalogue to avoid hybrids, and grow plants as they may have been found prior to widespread commercialization.

To get plants that are as they were in the past choose the plain species, not named varieties. The named varieties are selections from the huge spectrum of wild forms. In the past herbalists were not able to grow or collect more than the few plants that they had in their medicinal garden or forest and maybe do a bit of selecting by saving seeds of the most desirable forms, but they did not have huge acreages to choose from as is the case today.

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