November SGT Book Club Ponders the Future of Seeds

As someone who has grown up in the midwest, the fact that the SGT bookclub is going to tackle Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds," by Claire Hope Cummings, is poignant and exciting. My family began farming in some of the richest farmland in Illinois over 100 years ago and members of my extended family still work that land. Now, it is rows upon rows of tightly packed corn and soybean, no doubt genetically modified to produce at any cost. It still makes me shudder, but I am never quite sure why. Cummings will certainly shed some light on this and perhaps my hesitancy to be proud of the farm will have roots.

Then there is the gardener in me. My son and I are always saving seeds, as much for fun as for next years crops. Seeds are a wonder in and of themselves, from the way they sprout and grow, to the way the plants insure their dispersal, to the fact that they can survive winters and harsh climates, only to seemingly "know" the proper time to break forth.

Surely, this is a topic that anyone connected to food, from the production to the consumption, can find interest in. Anything that threatens to compromise our food supplies and the beauty of the natural order of the world deserves our attention. So, pick up a copy at your local bookstore or go to to find a great used copy. Email me for details about the book club discount.


The Bemidji SGT book club is Wednesday, November 30th, 6:00 pm at the Harmony Co-op.

The Minneapolis SGT book club is also on Nov. 30th, at 6:30 pm, Linden Hills Co-op.


An excerpt from the book: 

There are five solid reasons that genetic engineering is not right for agriculture. One: it's bad science. It was developed on the basis of flawed assumptions, which have since been discredited by the scientific community. Two: it's bad biology. It was deployed without regard for its potential for genetic contamination and its risks to human health. Three: it's bad social policy. It puts control over seeds and the fundamentals of our food and farms into the hands of a few corporations who have their own, not our, best interests in mind. Four: it's bad economics. After billions of dollars and thirty years, only a few products have been commercialized, and they offer nothing new. No one asked for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and given a choice, consumers would reject them. Five: it's bad farming. GMOs don't address the real issues plaguing agriculture; they're designed to substitute for or increase the use of proprietary weed and pest control chemicals. Patented and genetically altered seeds perpetuate the very worst problems of the industrial food system, and they are undermining the autonomy of the farmers who use them.


How genetic engineering threatens seeds, and the stories of those working to save this precious environmental resource Seeds are at the heart of the plant systems that provide us with food, energy, medicine, and even the air we breathe. Their power to adapt will be crucial to our ability to cope with a changing climate. In "Uncertain Peril," environmental journalist Claire Hope Cummings examines how agriculture has changed dramatically, how corporate control of seeds undermines their biological integrity and natural abundance, and how communities can maintain seeds as the common heritage of all humanity and preserve the regenerative capacity of the earth.


Lawrence Black is a writer and editor at 
Simple, Good and Tasty.  He can be reached at