• The term "heirloom" applied to seeds indicates that the seeds have been "open-pollinated," and have not been genetically engineered or hybrid to suit commercial interests.

    Genetically Modified

    Genetically modified seeds have been created by scientists to produce fruits and vegetables that can be shipped without bruising; withstand weed-killing chemicals or have been altered to enhance other commercially desirable attributes.


    Hybrids are the result of breeding two or more plants in order to create another to altered the flavor, texture, physical characteristics or other commercially desirable attributes.


    Unmodified seeds that have been preserved, generally through generations of farming families or a seed bank. The term "rare" can be used to indicate that few exist.


    Heirloom seeds are said to be "open-pollinated," meaning they come from plants that have been pollinated by insects, animals or water. Plants grown in greenhouses, such as flowers, tomatoes and peppers, are generally mechanically pollinated.


    Use of a limited seed pool reduces genetic diversity resulting in plants that are less resistant to pests. Preservationists argue that many species of plants are lost every year due to shrinking diversity and propose the use of heirloom seeds as a solution. Genetic modification produces hardy, though some would say, less flavorful produce.


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