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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hybrid does not mean GMO or GE

I was wandering around the world wide web yesterday ( as it was too cool and wet to do much outside) and noticed something. It bothers me a bit when people that put themselves out there as an authority figure, confuse issues. If I give the wrong info I really hope someone calls me out on it. I will either give you examples as to way I think what I stated was correct, or apologize and fix the post. There are some out there however that are adamant that they are correct.

A woman asked a question about hybrids verses heirlooms. The answer by someone was that all hybrids are GMOs. No one questioned this. As I wasn't a member of the group, I was not allowed to correct the information. And I see little point just to join so that I can blast their leader.

Hybrid plants do not have their genomes messed with. They are plants that have been either open pollinated or done so by hand. As Humans we do this selective breeding all the time and have for centuries. It helps make once non-edible foods, or hard to digest foods, easier on our stomachs and our palates. Our heirloom and heritage plants were once hybrids, it just that these plants have been able to breed true for many many generation.

Do not fear the hybrid.

GE or GMO's are different. Man has gone in and spliced and removed certain genes to create a more perfect monster.

Now I am not going to go into why GMOs are good or bad. I think they should be clearly marked on food labels and seed/plants so that we can make decisions based on the information available and believed by the consumer. The point of this post is that hybrids are not GMOs.

Hybrids can be made by nature as well a by man.

When it comes to choosing a hybrid, look at the filial number. 1 means that it is the first cross hybrid generation. If you are choosing plants to seed save for, this filial number is not one you really want. You will be able to seed save and a plant will grow, however it will not be true. F2 and F3 are the 2nd and 3rd generation of that hybrid plant. Seeds saved from them will produce true to parent offspring. (exception to the F1 rule is plants that can only propagate themselves by roots and vine)

Then you have your heritage and heirlooms that are almost guaranteed to produce true to parent plants because they are 100's of generation removed form the parents.

What seeds and plants to purchase and consume is up to you. Just do your research and make the best decisions for you and your family.


Nerdmom said...

Thank you for making this distinction. I think this confusion is why A LOT of people don't see potential problems that come with GE or GMO. I get in disagreements with people who don't really comprehend the difference between GE, GMO, and the normal selection that farmers have been doing since people have been farming. They are not the same. Actually hybridization, I think, is a good thing. Especially when it happens in nature.

Lisa said...

Awesome information Phelan...we would not have such enormous choice in roses if we didn't have hybrids and folks have been hybridizing for centuries...

Rivenfae said...

Thanks Phelan I too have see many people thinking the two are interchangeable when they really are not.

Lynda said...

I think it also important for gardeners to know GMO seeds are not sold to the general public. You can not get a GMO seed at the local garden center. They are sold to farmers...BIG farmers...corn, sugar beets, soy, alfalfa...etc.

P~ said...

Great point Phelan! It's one that I need to ensure that I make when talking to new gardeners as well. I do prefer to try and grow and keep seed from heirloom varieties, but every year there are a couple of hybrids that I always come back to for one or more of their special characteristics.
Thanks for keeping us "know-it-alls" honest.

Bob from Athens said...

Another example of hybrids is the apple, plant the seeds and you are pretty much guaranteed NOT to get the same thing. I think it is fun to sit back and listen, (read), what all the internet "experts" have to say about things that they obviously do not know squat about, but will argue with you for ever about it.

small farm girl said...

Thanks for clearing that up. I always wondered.

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