Are GMO seeds available for purchase?

We recently had a question sent to us about GMO seeds – whether they were being foisted upon us at the store. The simple answer is no. You can’t just go to the garden center and buy genetically modified seeds of any plant, they’re not available yet. I suppose, theoretically, you could call yourself a farmer and purchase genetically modified corn or soybeans, but the corn isn’t sweet corn (for the most part), and soybeans – who grows those besides farmers? You could ask a farmer friend to get you genetically modified alfalfa or sugar beets, but why? Are you really going to broadcast roundup across your garden? And it wouldn’t be legal for the farmers to give (or sell) it to you anyway.

It is worth noting that in the near future there may be grass seed that is genetically modified to resist Round-up, but it isn’t available yet (I’m not a person fundamentally opposed to genetic engineering – but I am opposed to Round-up ready grasses).

So, as a consumer, what can you buy that’s genetically modified? Not seed. Just the plants or plant parts that grow from the seed. Corn chips and processed foods. High fructose corn syrup, that kind of stuff. Also, you can buy carnations genetically modified to be blue – called ‘Moondust’. Most of the cheese we eat has been made with fungi genetically engineered to produce rennet. In terms of meat – it’s not available yet, but we’re getting close, especially with salmon.

23 thoughts on “Are GMO seeds available for purchase?”

  1. My wife keeps conflating “hybrid” with “GMO” and throws a big fit when I bring back hybrid plants worried that they are going to contaminate our food.

  2. Hey Jason, I did a short piece for Fine Gardening on the difference between hybrids and GMOs. Issue 143 (Jan/Feb 2012). Show it to your wife.

  3. Linda – I’d love to read your piece for Fine Gardening on the difference between hybrids and GMOs. I’ve looked on the Fine gardening website with no luck. Do you have a link to it. Or maybe I need to go to the actual library and read it on paper, very old fashioned.

  4. No seeds but you can buy GMO aquarium fish. GloFish are zebra fish with an added gene from jellyfish or from coral which allows them to fluoresce. There are several varieties now with trademarked names such as “Starfire Red”, “Electric Green”, “Sunburst Orange”, “Cosmic Blue”, and “Galactic Purple”. I, myself, am waiting for fluorescent zinnias that glow in the dark so they can double as garden path lights. 🙂

    1. Actually, there are some trees that are being worked on that will glow in the dark, and they will be put on street sides to reduce energy usage 🙂

  5. With Monsanto’s recent purchase of Seminis, there seems to be confusion in our master gardener group about boycotting Monsanto products vs. avoiding GMO products. Lists of tomato, pepper and other vegetable varieties are being circulated to “avoid due to GMO concerns”. Are any GMO tomato or pepper seeds or seedlings available to consumers?

  6. Hi Lise,

    Nope — no GMO tomato or pepper seeds — or any other veggies for that matter — are available to consumers — no need to worry.

  7. Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for shedding more light on this issue. I like to grow soy beans (edamame varieties) in my urban back yard. Since I am many miles from the nearest soybean farm, I assume that the risk of contamination from cross pollination with a GMO variety is damn close to zero. Have I got that right?

  8. ok – I can’t buy GMO seeds for my garden – but can there be a problem in the garden when – say if I save the seeds from the GMO varieties that I can get from a farmer/grocery store and and plant them in my garden? Can GMOs reproduce in that way? Can people contaminate their gardens by doing this? I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks

  9. Hi Shawnie, That is possible, but unlikely since GMO varieties are usually processed before sale. Still, I could see it happening.

  10. I really can’t wait until I can buy gmo seeds for my garden. The sooner I can take advantage of this advancement in plants the sooner I can benefit from it. It’s time to look at the science and realize that a lot the plants we know today did not exist hundreds of years back. Plants and gardeners have been modifying plants naturally by carefully keeping seeds from the plants that had traits they liked. All science has done is sped up what nature already does. I hope people stop repeating everything they hear and actually look at the issue for themselves, think and make up their own mind.

    1. you are SADLY MISTAKEN if you believe that all science has done is speed up evolution of the seeds. and that shows me that you have done NO homework on gmo’s themselves. so please stop telling others to educate themselves when you are not educated in the subject yourself.

      1. Sorry Karen, you are sadly mistaken. So please stop telling others to educate themselves when you are not educated in the subject yourself. You don’t even know that GMO has been done for thousands of years. You should read “10 Reasons To Eat GMOs and Feel Grateful For It,”
        @ Did you even realize that vegetables that have been labeled organic are indeed GMO.

    2. I would love to try some GM vegetable seeds in my garden. I would be most interested to see if the “purple tomatoes” (transfected with a gene for anthocyanin from snapdragon) are available. Actually GM seed is far more precise than hybridization.
      BYW, there’s really no such thing as “natural food”. Humans have genetically manipulated pretty much everything we eat.

      1. Anyone using the word transfected would be more interested in trying GMO seeds. I used to make viral vectors for gene therapy studies so I know enough about GMO to not be paranoid about them. I am so sick of seeing Non-GMO on seed packets. It’s not like a company would sell GMO seeds for a couple of dollars an envelope. I would like to try some in the garden though.

    3. I have just found this website. Thank you for directly addressing the question that no one else wants to touch: Home gardeners who _want_ to buy GMO seeds and plants. (It is illogical that we should prize random mutations but scorn intelligent ones.)

      I would especially like to have basic small-garden crops like beans and potatoes and tomatoes in GMO varieties. If anyone knows where these can be purchased, please post.

      (Now I am going to browse around this site…)

      Jan (biologist, software designer; please do not tell me I don’t know what I am talking about)

  11. Thanks for this article. Can you update it please for Spring 2015? I am called on more and more to address this issue in our garden center, and appreciate having a good reference to cite.

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