National Heirloom Seed Expo attracts thousands

By Ken Roseboro
Published: November 1, 2011

Category: NON-GMO Initiatives

Heirloom seed squash

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GMOs a major focus of educational events

More than 10,000 people attended the first ever National Heirloom Seed Exposition, held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California.

Organized by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Mansfield, Missouri, the three-day event was promoted as “The World’s Pure Food Fair” and featured more than 70 educational sessions ranging from seed saving and heirloom seed to herbs and local food systems. There was also a tradeshow, food vendors, and musicians.

“It was a great event, and went better than we expected,” said Paul Wallace, manager of Baker Creek’s Seed Bank in Petaluma. “There were a lot of like-minded people there and that created a great energy.”

Attendees came from all over the US as well as Canada, Wallace said.

Genetically modified foods were a major topic of discussion at the expo. Seven presentations including two keynote addresses focused on GM foods. Jeffrey Smith, author and executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, gave a keynote address on the health dangers of GMOs and achieving the non-GMO tipping point. Ken Roseboro, editor of The Organic & Non-GMO Report, spoke about environmental problems with GM crops and action steps for consumers to avoid GM foods. Pamm Larry, a California activist, spoke about the California ballot initiative to label GM foods. David Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now, discussed the threat posed by GM alfalfa. Daniel Ravicher, an attorney with the Public Patent Foundation, discussed the lawsuit against Monsanto challenging patents on seed. Vandana Shiva, founder of seed-saving organization Navdanya, gave a keynote address on the importance of protecting seed diversity from corporate domination, to a standing room only crowd of more than 1000 people on the Expo’s last night.

The event was such a great success that Wallace and Jere Gettle, founder Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, are planning to hold the event next year.

“A lot of people said they want to participate in it next year. We could probably double the number of attendees,” Wallace said.

© Copyright The Organic & Non-GMO Report, November 2011