Has Monsanto bought Seeds of Change? That seems to be the big question floating around the Internet. Panicky emails are circulating, bloggers are speculating, conspiracy theorists delighting. This one has been around for a few years. But is it true?
Seeds of Change maintains on its website that "the majority of the seed offered by Seeds of Change is grown by our network of certified organic farmers throughout the USA. Seeds of Change is the only middleman between the grower and consumer. We do not buy seed from wholesale seed distributors. We do grow a few seed crops at our research farm in New Mexico." The company says it donates 1 percent of net sales to sustainable organic farming initiatives and has never sold the genetically modified seeds for which Monsanto is (in)famous.
According to seedsofchange.com, the company, which since 1989 has been selling 100 percent certified organic vegetable, flower and herb seeds, many of them heirloom, is still operating true to its original mission of "preserving biodiversity and promoting the use of sustainable organic agricultural practices." That's an exact 180 from Monsanto's declared policy of producing more food with less by selling seeds with "traits developed through biotechnology, and crop protection chemicals."
I haven't been able to reach anyone at the media relations department of either Mars or Monsanto today, but I can confidently tell you that Seeds of Change has been owned by the family-run Mars Inc., which makes M&Ms, Skittles and Snickers bars, among others, since 1997. While Mars is not exactly the poster child for healthy eating, there is no indication it has any intention of selling genetically modified seeds through Seeds of Change.
One issue someone might have with the affiliation, and it might be a stretch -- you decide -- is that a seed purchase could be perceived as indirectly benefiting purveyors of junk food. I've been known to appreciate a Snickers bar from time to time, so I'm not throwing any stones at that glass house. Another -- less of a stretch -- is that Mars reportedly uses GMO ingredients in some of its products, so technically your seed purchase aids the support of a parent company that's involved in the practice, though Mars does not show any inclination to introduce GMO seeds into the marketplace or monopolize the seed supply or of attaining world domination. You need to decide this one for yourselves.