[Market-farming] Re: Is Micropropagation Organic?

Alliums garlicgrower at earthlink.net
Wed Nov 5 14:59:23 EST 2003

Paul wrote:

>   What I want to know is if micropropagation is considered organic.

I think what you are describing is tissue culture.

>  In fact
>you can rapidly propagate a plant this way.

Depends on the plant just how "rapid" the propagation is. Serious plant 
propagators tend to be very patient people! ;-)

>Apparently this is
>where a lot of those "plug" trays come from.  I first thought they were from

Tissue culture is a LOT more expensive than seeds -- if it was that cheap 
and quick, *all* seed potatoes would be formed from tissue culture because 
it's the best way to produce virus-free potatoes.  Seed Savers Exchange, 
USDA and the other major seed storage facilities are forced to use tissue 
culture periodically to keep viruses out of potatoes, other tubers and 
small fruits.  It's a common and accepted technique to save heirlooms that 
have otherwise been contaminated. Garlic varieties really should be tissue 
cultured from time to time, but no one has the money for it. :-(

>  But on the other hand, we are very close to the same
>techniques used to genetically modify plant DNA.

As someone who had reviewed (entirely too!) many books on GMOs, it's not 
the same thing at all.  One might buy or have a lab give one the cells of a 
plant one wants to play with, but the whole GMO process afterwards is 
*very* different.

To ban tissue culturing would doom many heirloom plants to oblivion.  As a 
seed saver and propagator myself, I think "organic" only comes into play 
once you have a viable seed or plant to put in the ground.  It's about 
growth rather than what one must do to resurrect a dying variety or species.

Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden

A mission of
St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA  19460

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