While I have a genuine interest in my diet, I must admit sometimes it can become a little overwhelming remembering what is sustenance and what is poison. Case in point; The empty packet of Amaizin corn chips that lay on my kitchen table. Although they were organic, they had me looking at them with suspicion like a cheating spouse.
I wondered if the corn was pure. Was she true? Did she lie by omission, telling me only part of where she had been in the hope that I wouldn’t cross-examine? Maybe I’ve lost faith, most things that tasted that good were always too good to be true. I needed to know more about corn. What I did know is that corn and soy are the easiest consumable substances to genetically modify, so it makes sense that the caveat on the clothing of most food products state only the possibility of their product rubbing up against, nuts, soy and …I dunno corn maybe.
Rather than just an accidental, informal rub maybe they were in bed together to produce a little Frankenstein within the packaging. As crazy as this sounds the FDA and FSA’s associates go to considerable lengths to colourfully obscure what should be obvious. I mean, it’s only our health at stake. This is why we felt honoured to interview Will Trudell from De Dell Seeds.
How great it would be to fly to Canada and enjoy all that open space and those cool people? (I’m sure everyone would agree that Canadians are generally just cool) but opulent we are not so an email to email exchange would suffice. After shockingly finding out from The Organic Consumers Association that De Dell Seeds were one of the few suppliers of non-GM corn seeds in that huge terrain, we felt it our duty to support them in whatever way we could.
We asked Will…..
- FB – How did you get into the business and why?
• DDS – My Father Vince has spent over 35 years in the seed industry, and during the late 1990s he did not like the direction he saw the seed industry going. That is when he decided to branch out on his own and start De Dell Seeds.
- FB – What is the story behind your name?
• DDS -The name De Dell came from a combination of two family names. Obviously, the “Dell” portion came from our last name Trudell, while the “De” portion came from the other founding member’s name de Dreu.
- FB – How large or small is your operation?
• DDS – In our home province of Ontario, we have between 1-1.5% market share which is big for our small family run company. However in the grand scheme of things we are a small fish in the big pond of the seed industry with other large multinational corporations. We have seen, and are anticipating growth in the next few years.
- FB – Are you guys in any major stores like Wholefoods?
• DDS – No we do not sell in any marketplaces. We only sell the seeds and not any food products.
- FB – Do you find many competitors in your field at home or abroad?
• DDS – Being that we are completely Non-GMO, we by default fall into our own category. This is not to say that we don’t have competition, but we certainly stand out from the rest. Most of the seed industry has heavily adopted GMOs and only carry a small portion of their lineup as Non-GMO and some companies have gone completely GMO, whereas we have never adopted GMOs and have kept our lineup 100% Non-GMO.
- FB – Considering Canada is seen as more friendly/less hostile than its neighbour does this reflect in the seed industry?
• DDS – No not at all. It has been a struggle right from the beginning fighting the rumors that we only use old technology or seed that was rejected from other companies. We conduct our own breeding and research and test nearly 1000 new hybrids each year to bring to market, only a few actually make it.
- FB – Are there any pressures from being the sole non-GM suppliers in corn seeds?
• DDS – I think the biggest challenge we face is convincing farmers that Non-GMO is just as feasible for their farms. The biotech industry has been fear mongering the farmers into thinking that they can’t grow a crop without using some form of GMO, while in reality, some farmers are actually making more money with a Non-GMO crop.
- FB – What are your visions of expansion, will De Dell Seed be branching out? We hope so.
• DDS – Yes of course! We have seen growth in almost every year of the company and foresee it continuing into the future. We believe that the consumers will drive the demand for Non-GMO products and food producers will be forced to look for alternatives which will drive the demand for Non-GMO.
- FB – How hard is it to keep your seeds pure (non-GM)?
• DDS – There are some challenges obviously, however there are also isolation guidelines we need to follow as seed producers which help. I think it is harder for the average farmers to be able to keep a clean product because there are no guidelines for them to follow which open up the door for contamination from neighbouring fields.
- FB – We hear that corn and soy are the easiest genes to modify in food how true is this, are we misinformed or is our information inaccurate?
• DDS – I am not sure on the ease of modifying, but I will say that it is no coincidence that the largest volume crops have been modified first. (ie corn and soy are the most widely grown crops worldwide)
- FB – We have also heard that glyphosate is linked to the big ‘C’ what do you feel about GM anything and is there cause for concern?
• DDS – It is hard to say because I am not sure who to believe. The ‘current’ safety analysis is based off of older studies and researchers are not allowed to use GM crops in their studies (it’s written in the technology agreement that farmers need to sign that they will not be using the crop for research purposed) which raises questions for me. Also, the previous studies are funded by the companies which stand to gain from the approval process, which raises even more questions. Then there are people like Gilles-Eric Seralini who did do a long term study (lifetime of the rats vs. 90-day studies) which demonstrated serious concerns. The study was published then retracted after a former Monsanto employee became editor at the Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal. Again seems very fishy. The World Health Organisation just recently stated that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen, and they were immediately criticized by Monsanto for making that announcement. All I know is that the amount of glyphosate used worldwide has skyrocketed since the introduction of GMOs, and it seems that the general public’s health has been decreasing ever since.
- FB – I recently stopped eating popcorn, have you any knowledge on the safety of the regular and healthy designer popcorn that we may buy ?
• DDS – To my knowledge, there is no GMO popcorn on the market. Designer popcorn such as the red or blue kernels is achieved by cross pollination with coloured corn which would be traditional breeding.
- FB – What is the difference between traditional breeding and transgenic breeding?
• DDS – There is a huge difference between traditional breeding and transgenic breeding. Traditional breeding has gone on for 100s of years where farmers would select plants based on their characteristics and breed them with other plants of the same gene family. The following is a very basic example but the farmer would select a tall plant and breed it with a plant with a large ear to produce a tall plant that has a large ear. Transgenic breeding is where they artificially breed species from 2 or more gene families that would never be able to breed naturally, ie how they have bred the bacteria Bacillus Thuringiensis (a pesticide producing bacteria) into the corn plant so that every cell of the corn plant produces its own pesticide.
- FB – What can the general public do to stay healthy, besides supporting organisations like yourselves.
• DDS – In my opinion, the general public should be very concerned with what they put in their mouths. The old adage “you are what you eat” reigns true. Be conscious of what you are eating, eat raw and unprocessed foods as much as possible. I know it can be daunting to prepare meals for yourself, so organise a pot luck dinner or rotational dinner parties among friends and family. Be aware of the ingredients in your foods as well. The food manufacturers are great at hiding things under different names (ie vegetable oil is used frequently, but what exactly is the ‘vegetable’? Soy? Canola (rape seed)? Sunflower?).
- FB – IYO Can world legislation keep us safe or do we have to enforce a separate sovereign body to hold our food suppliers accountable?
• DDS – Refer to the answer below. I think the biggest impact will come from a collection of small adjustments.
- FB – How open are you to the idea of a GM-free world food collective.
• DDS – If such a thing is going to be achieved it will need to come from the ground up. Jeffrey Smith, a leading Non-GMO activist, believes that if only 5% of the consumers demanded a Non-GMO product it would be enough for the food producers to look at an alternative. I think that getting involved at a municipal level or small scale first would be most beneficial. Start with your local school board and have them implement a GMO-free lunch for the children. Make it a city bylaw that no GMO plants/glyphosate be used within city limits. Vote with your own dollar and buy products that are either Non-GMO verified or organic. The little things will make a BIG difference.
- FB – How do you think this will all end?
• DDS – I’m not sure it ever will end. The biotech industry has spent a pile of money researching GMOs and they stand to lose even more if GMOs were to be banned. They will fight tooth and nail for their products as they have billions to lose. I think this issue carries many similarities as the tobacco industry. It’s like the old “9 out of 10 doctors prefer Camel cigarettes” sort of deal, smoking was once thought of as having no impact on your health but we have come to realize that’s not true. However, there are still people that continue to take up smoking. I don’t foresee GMOs ever leaving the marketplace however I do think that there will be a divide making it easier for consumers to make a choice on whether or not they want to consume them.
Well, we really have to thank Will, Vince and the rest of the De Dell Seeds family for sticking in there and also for being true hero’s, keeping our food safe. We also must thank them for informing us of the trials and tribulations that a moral company in the middle of a corporate jungle go through due to some detached men bribing, lying and hiding to get their INVESTMENTS into our stomach’s regardless of our safety.
De Dell Seeds
2479 Main Street
PO Box 129 Lambeth Stn
Office: 519-203-CORN (2676)
“The Leaders in Non-GMO Technology”