He then quotes a scientist as saying that the celebrated superior flavor of heirloom tomatoes is really due to the fact that they have much lower yields than hybrids (sometimes only 2 fruits) and because they are ripened on the vine. The great flavor has nothing to do with their genetic make-up.
Even a gardener with a black thumb, like myself, will see that statement about heirlooms only setting two fruits as a wild exaggeration. And of course anything ripened on the vine is going to taste better than something picked green, gassed with ethylene, and transported by truck. That’s a given, so why do we need Monsanto to transform heirloom tomatoes into something that can stand up to such treatment?
Both the plant breeder and the Monsanto PR person saw fit to comment on the article for their own reasons due to misstatements in the article, such as the assertion that hybrid seeds are sterile. They are not. Since the article ran, the editor has changed some of the offending passages (marked by asterisks). The comment by Monsanto’s PR person stated that they didn’t like the title of the piece because they are doing what they are doing for the love of heirlooms….because they really want to save them.
And that’s when we get to the real point. The company that brought us PCBs, Agent Orange, rBGH, tried to patent the pig, and has unleashed a litany of misery worldwide doesn’t want to save heirloom tomatoes for us. They want to patent and own them. Though the company has met with resistance to nearly every product it has tried to sell worldwide, it just keeps plugging along like a nightmarish telemarketer on endless redial. Monsanto won’t stop until they own every seed on the planet. This article in Grist from last year estimates that with Monsanto’s 2008 acquisition of Dutch tomato breeding company, De Ruiter Monsanto may now control as much as 85% of the US tomato market. Even though the PR person states in the comment section that Monsanto is doing this for commercial gardens, not home gardeners, I think it might be prudent for all home gardeners to lock up your heirloom tomato seeds in a safe place and watch which way the wind blows.