Hybrid seeds are hand-pollinated crosses between two or more different varieties of a plant species. They are specifically blended to create a super seed. They can grow a successful, uniform crop, have better resistance to cold temperatures or be less susceptible to disease.
Are these super seeds a farmer’s dream….or mother nature’s nightmare? The problem with hybrid seeds is that they cannot be used for reproduction. If you take seed from a plant grown from a hybrid, chances are the seed will be sterile. If you are lucky enough to get one to grow, it will not produce the same hybrid as the parent plant.
The rise of hybrid seed use poses a threat to the diversity of plant life. Nature has created many varieties of the same plant. Each variety has its differences which helps it thrive in certain circumstances. This makes certain varieties will withstand late frosts or resist specific diseases. When hybrids are planted, we lose nature’s “survival of the fittest” and varieties not handpicked by seed companies for cross-pollination could be wiped out forever. That lost variety might be one we need in the future.
Hybrid seeds are most valuable to commercial farmers who need a predictable, easy-to-grow crop. Hybrids cost seed producers more to make, but since they cannot be reused, they will make a profit by reselling them annually. Because there is more profit to be made by selling to commercial growers, the seeds are tailored to fit their needs. For example, hybrid seeds might produce tomatoes with thicker skin, making for easier transport, but with a blander taste. It’s no secret that tomatoes from the grocery store rarely taste as good as ones grown in your garden and this is one big reason why.
Some may argue that cross-pollination of plant varieties occurs naturally, so what’s the big deal? Seed manufacturers are creating hybrids at a very large rate. In this era, most people purchase their food from the grocery store. Most people are not growing vegetables in their garden. If the few remaining backyard gardeners plant hybrid seeds, then certain plant varieties could be wiped out before long. Planting open-pollinated and heirloom seeds are better for preserving the natural diversity of plant life.