Originally Posted by bgalbrecht
That description seems rather alarmist, especially since the whole deal with Monsanto and the farmers had nothing to do with heirloom and non-GMO seeds. Monsanto was suing the farmers because they were saving GMO seeds from their crops and using them for the next year's seed in violation of their contract which forbids the practice, and part of their legal argument was that it was a patent violation. Home gardeners buying seed packets or plants at the store without signing a contract forbidding the use of the crop as future crop seeds have nothing to worry about.
I bought it anyway to see what it had to say about harvesting seed for future seasons.
Actually, since many seeds are open pollinated (corn pollen can drift 2 miles, on average), you can end up with GMO genes in even "heirloom" seeds.
Depending on the country you are in, that could open you up to prosecution (the little guy hasn't been winning these fights in Canada, for example).
Monsanto routinely sprays "suspected" crops (ie, any farm not signed up with them) to see if the crops die -- if they do, you are cleared and if not, they sue for 'stealing' their seeds, no matter how you have ended up with them.
They've also worked on developing "terminator" seed technology, where a chemical spray is required for the crop to set seed for the next year. If that drifts into native populations and general food crops, it will be quite good for their bottom line, but will further increase poverty and starvation in many countries (just as the US insistence on turning corn into low-quality fuel, at a high fuel cost and the cost to the waterways, Gulf and Atlantic has done, while raising food costs substantially in other countries).
A bigger issue can be what the genetic modification is; some plants have bT built into every part of the plant, reducing insect damage and reducing farmer costs - but that means every bite you eat has it (there isn't any known issue from the natural sources in small amounts, but zero research has been done for the genetically modified versions, when you eat it every day) and it also affects other plants, both thru pollen drift and genetic changes in "weeds" (GMO genes are now found in a lot of the wild corn stock in south america, for example, even though there are supposed controls in place to prevent that -- this can effect both worldwide emergency stocks (when the next massive farm virus pops up, for example), but also the genetic diversity that can help prevent worldwide famine.
If you are a vegetarian (or a non-cannibal) -- you probably have another attitude about the human genetic material being grown in rice in the US (a situation that has already affected our export ability to certain countries).