Create a Yates account today!
Sign up to join the Yates Garden Club for monthly e-mails packed with seasonal inspiration, tips for success & exclusive promotions.
Plus if you’re a Garden Club member you can take part in the Yates Growing Community - a blog to share successes, get advice & win prizes in fun challenges along the way!
Enter the email address associated with your account, and we'll email you a new password.
We often hear from gardeners wondering if our seed products are ‘GM’ (Genetically Modified). The short answer is no - they are not, but we understand that some uncertainty remains. So, we’d like to offer some clarity by explaining what Genetic Modification actually is, in relation to seeds.
Being such a divisive topic, with lots of passionately held opinions, it's important that you gather information from independent sources. It's best if you can form a well-rounded perspective and decide for yourself. Social Media often isn't the most reliable source of truth on any topic; consider whether the groups or individuals you're seeking information from have any legal or professional obligation to back up their claims with evidence or reasoning. Is there any real risk to them if they get it wrong?
We stand by the information and resources supplied on our own website. But if you're ever in doubt, it makes sense to start your research with independent and refereed sources. It's a hot topic, so sadly false and incomplete information is easily circulated, particularly online.
GM seeds only make up a tiny percentage of the global seed supply. Here's a quick explanation of the three broad categories used when talking about seeds:
GM Seeds: are those produced from genetically modified plants that wouldn't occur without human intervention, using 'in vitro' methods to alter plants at a cellular level. A 'GMO' is a Genetically Modified Organism, which is the end result.
As mentioned, there are only a handful of GM seed varieties in circulation around the world. These include GM varieties of alfalfa, canola, cotton, maize, papaya, soybean, sugar beets and summer squash. They aren't designed or intended for use in home garden situations - they're typically sold at a premium price to farmers and commercial growers in overseas markets, that have more relaxed rules than NZ.
Here in New Zealand it's illegal to import Genetically Modified seed or nursery stock without approval from the Environmental Protection Authority (permission is rarely granted and is extremely unlikely for GMOs that would be released into the environment). The Ministry of Primary Industries strictly enforces this regulation at the NZ border, requiring some seed varieties to be tested for proof they don't contain GM genetic material before allowing them to be imported.
Hybrid Seeds: are produced by natural means, by controlling the pollination process. Breeders identify two different plants with desirable features, then selectively breed or ‘cross’ them to produce offspring with characteristics such as bigger fruit, better yield or enhanced disease resistance. Plant breeders have been dramatically improving plants in this way for hundreds of years, although the science behind it really took off during the 20th Century. The resulting plant is commonly referred to as a first generation cross or ‘F1’ - you might see hybrid seed variety names which include 'F1'.
Open Pollinated (including ‘Heirloom’) Seeds: are pollinated by insects or wind, rather than people. These are typically varieties which have proven to remain 'true to type' over many generations. This group includes many cultivars, that were originally established by selective breeding! The oldest of these (older than 50 years) are called 'Heirloom' varieties, in the sense of characteristics being passed down from generation to generation. In a delightful parallel, heirloom varieties are often cherished and passed down through generations of gardeners.
No, they aren’t. We require our seed suppliers to confirm that all the seeds used in our seed packets are produced via conventional methods and are not genetically modified.
If you have any further questions or uncertainties, please get in touch! We're happy to discuss it further and fill in more detail for you.
You can call us on 0800 693 297, or write to us at PO Box 1109, Auckland 1140, New Zealand.
Monday, Wednesday & Friday
9.00am – 4.30pm
For Poisons Information New Zealand, please call 0800 764 766
In an emergency, please call 0800 220 770 (ALL HOURS)
We look forward to hearing from you soon!