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Sat Aug 23, 2014, 04:12 PM

GMOs in our ornamentals?

I hope it's okay if I drop in your group, but I've been noticing something different in my plants, particularly annuals lately. It seems there are fewer bugs and butterflies. I used to have lots of lady bugs but haven't seen one lately, very few butterflies and wasps as well as bees. Since I don't use pesticides, chemical fertilizers or herbicides, I started wondering why. Maybe it's the drought we are going through, but OTOH I still have ants and snails.

However when I put out hanging baskets of flowers for hummingbirds of flowers they like, they haven't gone to them but to flowering bushes I planted years ago. I buy seedlings at the nursery to plant. Has Monsanto started interfering with our garden plants too? Has anyone else noticed this?

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Response to Cleita (Original post)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 04:24 PM

1. I wouldn't worry about GMOs in ornamental plants, but

what you do need to watch out for is neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide many nurseries have been using in greenhouses. Neonicotinoids have been used recently in commercial agriculture and nurseries because they kill insects without being toxic to humans, birds or mammals. The problem is that these chemicals are systemic. They are applied to seeds and seedlings, and end up distributed throughout the whole plant. Then, if bugs eat the plant, they die. The problem is that these chemicals also kill the bees that eat the plants' nectar, and this is getting to be a huge problem. Some nurseries have lately started advertising that their plants are neonic-free, and you should buy only from those nurseries and garden centers. If you get plants from a big-box store, however, you probably can't be sure those plants are safe. More info here: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/neonicotinoid-insecticides-zmgz14fmzsto.aspx#axzz3BFiruBaR

There could be a lot of reasons why the hummingbirds aren't coming to the hanging flowers, but GMOs are not a likely culprit. GMO plants are being developed mainly for crops, not ornamentals.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 04:28 PM

3. Thank you. I didn't know about the neonicotinoids.

I believe I will start checking out the wholesalers. They do put their labels on the packs. It shouldn't be hard to track down.

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Response to Cleita (Original post)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 04:28 PM

2. Interesting link below - mostly at this point used to create rare colors

http://www.isb.vt.edu/news/2013/Aug/Chandler.pdf

Worth a read - I've just skimmed it, but it is a good question.

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #2)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 04:32 PM

4. Wow, it appears they have done it in some markets and are looking

to expand it. Seems this would be a good opportunity to start a seed bank of non-GMO polluted ornamental plants for the future.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #4)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 04:40 PM

5. There is - the Seed Savers has a flower and herb exchange - glad you raised this!

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #5)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 05:20 PM

10. Thank you. I looked at their website. It's what we are going to need I think. eom

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Response to Cleita (Reply #4)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 04:51 PM

6. I am wondering how harmful GMO ornamentals might actually be.

The concern with using them for crops is not so much that they are dangerous to eat (that hasn't been conclusively established one way or the other yet) but that there are some other unintended consequences. For example, there is a kind of GMO corn called "Roundup-Ready." It has been developed to be resistant to glyphosate (Roundup) which kills any kind of plant. Glyphosate is less toxic than some other herbicides, so if you are going to use any herbicide at all, it's better than the others. But there's no way to apply it to a field to kill the weeds without also killing your crop, which is why they developed "Roundup-Ready" seeds. Then glyphosate can be used to kill the weeds without endangering the crop. However, nature always bats last, and because of the widespread use of glyphosate some weeds have managed to become resistant to it. The worst of these is called Palmer amaranth, which is a very nasty weed that is almost unkillable, and it's begun infesting a lot of fields in the south and moving north. It chokes out everything. The result is that even if you have planted GMO corn that's resistant to glyphosate, the glyphosate-resistant weeds will kill your crop anyhow. It's Mutual Assured Destruction with plants, again proving the point that it's not nice to fool Mother Nature.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #6)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 05:05 PM

7. If you are killing the insects, you are interfering with the ecosystem and

the critters that benefit from them, it would seem to me, and eventually that might be us.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #7)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 05:08 PM

8. Absolutely true. The GMOs I was referring to deal with herbicides,

not pesticides, which is a different issue. I think the neonicotinoids, which are not related to GMOs, are a more direct threat to beneficial insects at this point, and I'm glad to see that there more awareness of this problem.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #8)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 05:19 PM

9. The herbicides are a big problem because they pollute the soil

and don't biodegrade as readily like claimed. All that stuff is bad IMHO. To me old fashioned weed pulling is therapeutic. My methods are deterrents, like wire baskets to keep the gophers from eating the roots of new plants or sometimes over planting in the hopes some will survive. I also try to achieve a balance in companion planting to attract a wide variety bugs, birds and other critters so that most of my plants survive with minimal damage.

That's why this has been so mystifying to me. Sure the plants look better, however, you should see what snails did to my delphiniums. It seems the critters and birds that kept them under control are not coming around like before.

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Response to Cleita (Original post)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 09:37 PM

11. Of course it is ok for you to drop in here.

Drop in more often. That is an excellent question, and your observation about the annuals you have is astute. I haven't paid enough attention, although I don't do many annuals. I will be more careful in the future as well.

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