Monday, February 28, 2011

A Reason to Avoid Genetically Modified Seeds That Isn't Often Mentioned

Actually, more than not mentioned, rarely considered.  I found this op ed piece in the Christian Science Monitor, usually a very conservative publication, to be worthy of note and consideration.  

We already know, or are beginning to learn, the human health cost of GE products - foisted on us by a company that cares nothing for the health of millions of people and condoned by a government bought and paid for by that same company.  Those of us who supported a change in government, are sorely vexed with the coziness of the Obama administration with Monsanto and GE seeds. 

We are also well aware of the dangers posed to the environment and other species by pollen contaminated with altered genetic material.  We know that there is no way to isolate modified organisms that become a part of the food chain; their contamination further contaminates organisms up the food chain until humans consume them.  They further infect wild plants and plants in fields that are designated 'organic.'  Unlike the recent Whole Foods Market statement, there is no way organic farming and gardening can 'peacefully coexist' with genetically modified organisms.  It isn't possible because there are no governmental controls on them.  

Short of a ban on GE (also called GMO), there is no way to insure that these unnatural organisms will not show up in our food supply.  We can oppose Monsanto and other corporations by keeping the Open Pollinated seed lines and land races of seeds alive and flourishing.  It is a truth that no one is growing GMO's in the city - only farmers planting massive acreage are getting GE seed so food grown in the city is certain to be free of genetic manipulation.  

Join the Seed Library of Los Angeles and help us with the seeds that will save civilization when the genetic engineering blows up in our faces.  SLOLA will be here with the seeds we will ALL need.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Organic Seed Alliance Releases “State of Organic Seed” Report

The Organic Seed Alliance - one of our true friends in the seed business today, released its "State of Organic Seed" Report; you can download a PDF here.

From the report's introduction, comes the following:
The lack of organically bred and produced seed is a barrier to the growth and ongoing success of  organic farming. Seed is the critical first link in organic production, and provides farmers with the genetic tools to confront day‐to‐day challenges in the field. Organic systems have different challenges than conventional counterparts and have fewer spray‐on solutions. Further investments in organic plant breeding will yield adapted genetics suitable to a range of pest and disease pressures, growing seasons, and flavor and nutrition needs. Organic seed that is appropriate for regional agronomic challenges, market needs, regulations, and the social and ecological values of organic agriculture is therefore fundamental to the success of organic farmers and the  food system they supply.  

Later, in the body of the report, it goes on to say....  the seed industry is one of the most concentrated in agriculture. Concentrated ownership of plant genetic resources, largely facilitated by exclusive rights afforded under utility patents, has limited private and public plant breeders’ access to genetics. Onerous genetic licensing agreements dictate if and how genetics will be used and create a culture of fear, as some breeders worry about legal actions against them if they unknowingly or incorrectly use patented material.

The whole report makes for some very informative reading - if you are not familiar with the Organic Seed Alliance, I urge to look at their information - they are doing really good work towards insuring our organic seed supplies and deserve our support.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011


(Seed Library of Los Angeles)
Saturday, February 19, 2010

Executive members present: David King; Clara Yoshihara, Lucinda Zimmerman, Sarah Spitz, Cheryl Noda, Elizabeth Bowman
Executive members absent: Ledette Gambini, Linda Preuss

I. Welcome to members and Guests

At 2:30 pm, Chair David King welcomed the attendees, which included several committee chair people and members. Approximately 40 people were in attendance.

David explained that SLOLA hopes to be a seed library that is available to as wide a membership as possible, and especially to serve as a source of seeds for those who cannot afford to purchase.


All minutes will be posted there; and committee chairs are encouraged to put minutes of committee meetings and announcements of future meetings on the blog as well.

II. Secretary’s Report

Secretary Sarah Spitz reviewed highlights from the Minutes of the meeting on Jan. 15. One printed copy was circulated; the official Minutes of that meeting will be updated to reflect one additional name (Lucia Burke) on the Best Practices committee, and will be posted to the blog, at the link above.

III. Treasurer’s Report

Ledette Gambini was absent. However, as explained during the Executive committee meeting, which took place just prior to the General Meeting, the balance in the bank was reported to be approximately $485. After the meeting, it was learned that this amount is short of the actual total in the account.

IV. Committee Chair Reports

Database committee chair Linda Preuss was not available for the meeting. David King reported that the committee has not met but that Shelley LaRocca has created (or is in the process of creating) a form for seed inventory, which eventually can be printed out and folded into a seed packet by users accessing the library from their own computers.

Membership committee chair Cheryl Noda stated that SLOLA has 62 paid members. And Co-Vice Chair/outreach coordinator Clara Yoshihara is spearheading an effort to get the Safe Seed Pledge, which members sign when they join, translated into multiple international languages. The one-sheet Safe Seed Pledge approved at a prior meeting will be two-sided, with English and Spanish, but many other translators will convert this document into many languages to encourage as diverse a membership as possible. Forms with languages other than English and Spanish will be posted online. CLARA WELCOMES CONTACTS FROM MEMBERS WILLING TO DO THESE TRANSLATIONS: to contact Clara please visit our FACEBOOK PAGE and post a message to her here:

Organization/Bylaws committee chair Lucinda Zimmerman points out that the proposed bylaws posted to the blog are basically a boilerplate from other sources and need to be customized to represent SLOLA specifically. Members are encouraged to review and comment on bylaws so that by the next meeting, they can be finalized. Please send all suggestions to Lucinda at the SLOLA Board Facebook page and post your comments there: The text is online at

Web/Outreach Committee Previous committee chair Sarah LaVoie had to step down and Elizabeth Bowman has taken over for her. Currently the committee is seeking a web designer, and will reach out to sources such as Time Banks, Santa Monica College etc, to find someone willing to donate time. The website designer will help decide where the site should be hosted and aid in designing the website based on what templates are available. A Google document was created with outreach ideas, contacts etc. Patty Kestin, member of the committee, was able to get numerous postings for this meeting from a number of these outreach contacts, including Slow Food LA, GoToGreenLA, LA Bioneers, The Gardenerd, Envirochangemakers and others, as well. To contact Elizabeth, please post your comments to the SLOLA Board Facebook page,

Best Practices Committee chair David King explains that members will be responsible for determining the minimum requirements for growing seeds. For example, regarding “outcrossing” versus “incrossing” pollinated plants, incrossing are easy to save as some self pollinate or pollinate protectively while outcrossing will not breed true (if you have a machata squash next to a different squash, they will pollinate each other and seeds from that will not be “true” to either). These are the kinds of issues Best Practices deals with. The committee is seeking individuals to take responsibility for a particular “portfolio” – i.e., an area of expertise. For example, one person would research and become an expert on Peppers, or Corn or Tomatoes, and then will provide education to the membership on these seeds and plants.

V. Old Business

David introduced SLOLA’s officers to the membership. Vice chair is a shared position between Lucinda Zimmerman and Clara Yoshihara. Website issues were covered in the Web/Outreach committee report.

VI. New Business
A. Approval of committee actions—authorized treasurer to work with Web/Outreach as needed with regard to costs of doing business.

B. New members – committees are seeking members because committees are the place that the work of this newly forming group will be done. The goal is to be able to meet only twice yearly instead of monthly.

C. Logo decision: three designs for the Logo were passed around. They are posted on the Blog. Vote was taken to decide which one to use, if only temporarily: On a majority vote, the first of the three designs was chosen; but a second vote called for reversing the image of the seed. David King will speak to Sarah LaVoie, who designed the logo, about reversing the seed shape.

Also: The Web/Outreach committee was authorized to work with Treasurer to investigate as a potential future fundraising mechanism for SLOLA.

The possibility of videotaping Best Practices education panels was discussed. A volunteer -- Kathryn Linehan -- has volunteered to do this as soon as we are ready.

A membership email list is being developed. David will continue to send messages to Board members and will coordinate with Membership Committee to inform all members via the email list.

A membership email list is being developed. David will continue to send messages to Board members and will coordinate with Membership Committee to inform all members via the email list. A members-only protected area on the future website would be offered, and members will have the option of whether or not they wish to share their information in that members-only area.

THE NEXT MEETING WILL BE HELD ON MARCH 13, 2011 at 2:30 pm. Committee chairs and executive officers will meet at 1:45 prior to the meeting.

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Spitz, SECRETARY

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Proposed SLOLA MEETING AGENDA, 19 February , 2011

  1. Welcome to members/guests
  2. Secretary has minutes of last meeting
  3. Treasurer's report
  4. Committee Chair's reports
    A. Database
    B. Membership
    C. Organizational/Bylaws
    D. Web/Outreach
    E. Best Practices
  5. Old Business
    A. Vice-chair
    B. Web site
  6. New Business
    A. Approval of committee actions
    B. New members assigned to committees
    C. Logo*
    D. Bylaws
    E. Next meeting
  7. Adjourn for seed swap and conviviality! 

    From top to bottom, Logo 1, 2 and 3...  



Friday, February 18, 2011

A Starting Place for Our Bylaws...

Please look this over, print a copy and bring to the meeting tomorrow.  We will use this as our template for creating our organization.  

Seed Library of Los Angeles

Article I – Name

The name of this organization shall be Seed Library of Los Angeles, hereinafter referred to as SLOLA.

Article II – Purpose

The purpose of SLOLA is to create a community of people dedicated to helping our community grow fresh fruits and vegetables by providing seed and educational resources. SLOLA recognizes the importance of seed saving in creating locally-adapted plant varieties, maintaining a safe food supply, and creating a community of like-minded gardeners. Additional input needed

Article III – Members

Section 1. Eligibility for membership
All persons who are interested in growing and/or saving seeds are eligible for membership.

Section 2. Dues
A lifetime membership of $10 is due upon completing the membership form.

Section 3. Fines
Fines may be imposed on members who do not abide by the policies set by the Seed Standards and Organization Committees.

Section 4. Resignation
Members may resign by sending a letter to the Membership Committee.

Section 5. Voting
All members in good standing are entitled to one vote at meetings

Article IV – Officers

Section 1. Officers
A. The officers of the board shall consist of a Chair, Vice Chair, past Chair, Secretary, Treasurer elected by the members.
B. Elected officers will serve a term of two years.
C. A member of each committee shall serve as standing advisers to the board.

Section 2. Duties
The duties shall be as follows:
A. The Chair shall preside at all Board meetings, appoint committee members, and perform other duties as associated with the office.
B. The Vice-Chair shall assume the duties of the Chair in case of the Chair’s absence.
C. The Secretary shall be responsible for the minutes of the Board, keep all approved minutes in a minute book, and send out copies of minutes to all.
D. The Treasurer shall keep record of the organization’s budget and prepare financial reports as needed.

Article V – Committees

Section 1. Standing Committees. The standing committees shall be: Seed Standards; Membership & Education; Database & Catalog; Publicity; and Organization.
A. Seed Standards. This committee is responsible for setting and review seed qualifications to be included in the library. ???
B. Membership & Education. This committee is responsible for keeping an accurate and updated membership list. This committee will also be responsible for coordinating educational events related to seed saving and preservation.
C. Database & Catalog. This committee is responsible for creating and maintaining an accurate and up-to-date list of all seeds in the library.
D. Publicity. This committee is responsible for creating and maintaining a SLOLA website. This committee is also responsible for coordinating the marketing of public outreach events.
E. Organization. the organization committee is responsible for reviewing the bylaws and submitting amendments for review by the membership. This committee is also responsible for setting procedures for the checking out and returning of seeds. ???

Section 2. Special Committees
Special committees may be appointed by the Chair, the board, or the membership

Article VI – Meetings

Section 1. Regular meetings
Regular Meetings will be held as dictated by a vote of the membership, to be no less than two meetings per year and no more than 12 meetings per year.

Section 2. Special Meetings
Special meetings may be called at any time by the Chair or a majority of the board.

Section 3. Agendas
Agendas shall be available at least one (1) day in advance, if requested.

Article VII – Voting

Section 1. Quorum
A majority of the board constitutes a quorum. In absence of a quorum, no formal action shall be taken except to adjourn the meeting to a subsequent date.

Section 2. Motions
Passage of a motion requires a simple majority (ie, one more than half the members present).

Article VIII – Conflict of Interest

Any member of the board who has a financial, personal, or official interest in, or conflict (or appearance of a conflict) with any matter pending before the Board, of such nature that it prevents or may prevent that member from acting on the matter in an impartial manner, will offer to the Board to voluntarily excuse him/herself and will vacate his seat and refrain from discussion and voting on said item.

Article IX - Fiscal Policies
The fiscal year of the board shall be [start date to end date]

Article X – Amendments
These by-laws may be amended by a simple majority members present at any meeting, provided a quorum is present. 

The suggested agenda for our 3rd meeting will be posted shortly.  


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Researcher: Roundup May Be Causing Miscarriages in Cattle, Humans

In a chilling article, appearing in the Safe Lawns Blog, quotes Dr. Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University in a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, describes what he believes is a link between Round Up and miscarriages in cattle and humans.  Huber states that a new pathogen is appearing in the soil and it's appearance and pattern of population, suggests to him an interrelation between it and Round Up and the pathogen and miscarriages as human mothers in at least one study also had this pathogen in their bodies, suggesting that it had come via our food system.  

At any rate, until research susses it out one way or the other, Dr. Huber asks Vilsack to use emergency powers and stop any expansion of Round Up use until the thing can be settled.

Sadly, our government will wait 20 years until the harm is established and then declare the barn door had not ought to have been opened.  Write your Congressional representatives and your President.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another nice seed site: this is the home page -- buy, sell or swap, globally, apparently! this is their new online swap option!
SeedLiving is introducing a new option so that growers can swap seeds in their community online, as often as they wish. Pass SeedLiving's URL on and begin swapping. There is now no need to list a price for a packet of seeds, you can only swap if you'd like. Simply choose the 'swap only' function when listing seeds. (read more at the link)

Saturday and Rain/Cold - Not To Worry!

This is the third logo submitted by Sarah Lavoie for SLOLA - there are subtle differences, and I've heard from several folks with ideas.  What are your thoughts?  (Scroll below to earlier posts for the other two submissions.)  And come to the meeting this Saturday to help us choose! 

The weather folks, who are the ones we think might know something we don't, are all jumping up and down proclaiming a 'storm' for this coming Saturday.  I've held events at The Learning Garden for almost ten years now and I've only seen two events canceled because of rain:  However, I have located a room on campus to hold the SLOLA meeting in if it is raining or too cold for the coming SLOLA meeting - come to the patio where we usually meet and we'll have folks to direct you to the indoor space, it's very close to the patio where we've had the last two meetings.  

We will carry on!  Come on over and join SLOLA, the ground-swell way to deal with the destruction of our food system!

Our proposed agenda will be posted here very soon!  


Monday, February 14, 2011

And now, GMO Corn, Paid for By....

Courtesy of

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FDA Lifts Restrictions on Planting Syngenta's Genetically Modified Corn Seeds

Feb. 14, 2011 - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given corn growers the green light to plant Swiss-based Syngenta's genetically modified corn seeds ( corn amylase Event 3272) for the 2011 spring season. According to the St. Louis Business Journal, the announcement is a boon to midwest growers, but the product is under fire regarding concerns for crop contamination. The seeds will be sold under the "Enogen" brand.

Below is a breakdown of the $660,230 in contributions dating back to 2001 from Syngenta and its employees to members of the 109th-112th Congresses. A analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that two high-ranking officials on the House Agriculture Committee also top Syngenta's donor list. The committee's ranking Democrat Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) has taken in $19,500 in contributions, while committee Vice-Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has taken in $19,000. Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) sits amongst the top ten with $11,000 in contributions. The House Agriculture Committee is tasked with oversight of the FDA. Contribution figures date from Jan. 1, 2001-Nov 22, 2010

Top 10 Lawmakers Receiving Campaign Contributions From Syngenta

Recipient Party District Total
Collin Peterson Democrat MN House 7 $19,500
Robert Goodlatte Republican VA House 6 $19,000
Saxby Chambliss Republican GA Senate $16,000
Michael Castle Republican DE House At-large $15,500
Blanche Lincoln Democrat AR Senate $13,000
Max Baucus Democrat MT Senate $13,000
Thomas Latham Republican IA House 4 $13,000
John Boehner Republican OH House 8 $12,000
Adrian Smith Republican NE House 3 $11,000
Frank Lucas Republican OK House 3 $11,000

Top 10 Total Contributions to Lawmakers by State From Syngenta

North Carolina $60,600
Texas $47,000
Iowa $38,000
Illinois $35,050
Minnesota $34,100
Georgia $33,500
Missouri $29,750
Virginia $24,000
Ohio $23,500
California $22,000

Methodology: Monetary and non-monetary contributions to candidate campaign committees of legislators serving in the 109th, 110th, 111th and 112th Congresses for election cycles 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010. Contributions data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Link to this data release here . is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group that tracks money in politics.

Media Contact:
Pamela Heisey
c: 415-299-0898 | w: 510-868-0894 | e:
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Monsanto: Democracy's Terminator Gene By KHRISTOPHER FLACK

An excerpt from this op-ed (read the complete piece at this link)

Genetically modified alfalfa doesn't sound as important as "the economy," "healthcare," or "jobs." Yet our fourth largest crop, a major feed for dairy cows, has a direct impact on the quality of our milk. By allowing Monsanto to freely modify something so crucial, but so unfamiliar, the Department of Agriculture is facilitating the quiet modification of the American diet without popular consent or notice. More importantly, the company receiving free reign over our food supply is a predatory one, one that collaborates with cigarette companies, makes bestselling pesticides like Roundup—which the alfalfa is bred to resist—and runs small organic farmers out of business by suing them for using patented GM seeds that entered their fields on the wind.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

LA TImes Op-Ed: No seeds, no independent research

Companies that genetically engineer crops have a lock on what we know about their safety and benefits.

Soybeans, corn, cotton and canola — most of the acres planted in these crops in the United States are genetically altered. "Transgenic" seeds can save farmers time and reduce the use of some insecticides, but herbicide use is higher, and respected experts argue that some genetically engineered crops may also pose serious health and environmental risks. Also, the benefits of genetically engineered crops may be overstated.

We don't have the complete picture. That's no accident. (read the rest at this link)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

SLOLA's Next General Meeting

Just a head's up for your calendar, save the date of 19 February at 2:30 PM for the next general meeting and seed swap of the Seed Library of Los Angeles.  Committee chairs will meet at 1:45 with the rest of the Board (anyone may attend) to plan the meeting's agenda.  One thing on the agenda will be adoption of the logo - this is the second logo among the ones we have to choose.  Hope you can be here to help us choose!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Exciting Opportunity To Help Grow the Seed of SLOLA!

SLOLA is moving forward. We have had only two meetings and already our ranks are swelling. The more members growing out more seed, the better the seeds will be in terms of genetically being able to maintain different varieties – and more varieties. It is fun, but it's also a bit of work – in putting this all together.

To do the work, SLOLA has several committees. We have a membership committee that takes care of our membership and seeks to find us more. Database committee works on putting together the database that will track our seeds so we can assure folks of fresh clean seed. Organization is the committee that is setting the rules of the organization so it's always run fairly and can continue to exist without any one person and grow over time to become a stable institution in Los Angeles.

The final committee we have is Outreach/Web. This is the committee responsible for reaching out to the rest of the community – it includes creating a web space that SLOLA can use to communicate to many of our members and the world; getting out press releases and having good relations with the media. Sarah Lavoie of this committee created the proposed logo above, which is a part of their workload as well.  It is a committee with a lot happening on it and we'd like to share the load. If this is the kind of volunteer work that strikes a chord with you and especially if you have some background in website creation, we'd very much like to have you on board! Contact SLOLA through my email address, greenteach (at) gmail (dot) com.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

GMO/Monsanto-Free Seed Companies, Seed Starting, and Other “Seedy” Things We Lust After for Spring…

As we are digging ourselves out of the snow banks or watching the flood water recede and preparing for the next winter storm, I will wager dollars to dahlias that we are dreaming of our spring gardens! Isn’t that how gardeners spend their New Years? We can’t help it…seed catalogs of all types are starting to arrive – what one gardener I know calls “gardening porn”. There they are, in all their splendid glory…glossy colorful pictures of our horticultural dreams. Oh the potential, the possibilities of what those seeds could become (or not) in our own gardens. This is how gardeners ring in the New Year! We close our 2010 gardening journals, full of success and, yes, failure, and open 2011′s journal to all those blank pages full of potential! So HGEL’s GroEdibles blog over the next few months (and GRŌ our newsletter) will deal with steps to take to ensure that what comes out of your garden this year looks just as good as those beautiful pictures you’re lusting over right now – site & plant selection, soil preparation, composting (including vermicomposting), irrigation – among other topics. We start, as do all things, with seeds. (more at link above)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Seed Sovereignty Declaration

Watch this inspiring video that features students at Peñasco Middle School and Roots and Wings Charter School reading the Declaration of Seed Sovereignty in 2010. We cannot forget the important role our youth will play in leading us toward a sustainable, socially just, and equitable food future.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

A blog about public media from Would pubcasting funding cutback affect Los Angeles music scene?

A blog about public media from Would pubcasting funding cutback affect Los Angeles music scene?

This is a big article that explains the nuances and the impact of the "Defund NPR" campaign -- which, of course, is a political catchphrase because it's ALL of public broadcasting that will be affected, TV and Radio, and radio is more than just NPR -- it's just that NPR makes such an easy catchphrase as a political target.