Conventional, in the context of garden seed really means ‘unspecified’ or, not disclosed as to what chemicals, processes or growing methods were used in the production of the seed. There are no requirements for labeling in this classification, and the seed is assumed to be the intellectual property by patent of name or of modification of the seed (also undisclosed) of the selling company.
While there really isn’t any category of seed promoted out there as ‘conventional’, most of the seed sold in hardware stores and grocery shops around the US are conventional seeds. What this means is that there are no rules about whether or not pesticides or other chemicals are used in the growing of the crops from which these seeds are produced.
It also means, in the US, that these seeds can be seeds which derive from the bio-tech industry and are genetically modified. There is no labeling requirement for either of these two potentials in the seed being sold in this ‘conventional’ category. So, if you are serious about growing organically, or dedicated to avoiding genetically manipulated crops, then you will not want to purchase this type of seed.
Most of these seeds are sold by a handful of large corporations. In 2013, more than 80 percent of all food crop seeds are in the control of these corporations who hold patent and intellectual controls over them. While the average home gardener may not think this applies to the seed they will grow in their garden, unless conscientious choices are made to avoid such seed, these seeds will end up in the home garden. Here’s the list of the top ten seed companies world-wide and the value of their sales. It should be noted that as recently as the early 20th century, or 100 years ago, the vast majority of food crop seed was controlled by individual farmers and growers of those crops. (ETCGroup 2012 Report “Who Owns Nature”)
- Monsanto (US) – $4,964m – 23%
- DuPont (US) – $3,300m – 15%
- Syngenta (Switzerland) – $2,018m – 9%
- Groupe Limagrain (France) – $1,226m – 6%
- Land O’ Lakes (US) – $917m – 4%
- KWS AG (Germany) – $702m – 3%
- Bayer Crop Science (Germany) – $524m – 2%
- Sakata (Japan) – $396m – <2%
- DLF-Trifolium (Denmark) – $391m – <2%
- Takii (Japan) – $347m – <2%
Top 10 Total – $14,785m – 67% [of global proprietary seed market]
Source: ETC Group
VegetableGardenHub: Vegetable Seeds