Is ‘Hialeah’ green bean seed available untreated; is it a genetically-engineered variety; and does the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVP) prohibit anyone from saving seed from it?

J.K. MissouriAnswer: ‘Hialeah’ was specifically developed for disease resistance under Florida growing conditions, upright plant habit/uniform maturing (to facilitate one-pass harvesting), and abundant yield. In 1989 it was introduced as a newer version of ‘Gater Green,’ another Florida commercial standby. Still newer versions have since been introduced for the Florida commercial winter vegetable grower. The following is from the online version of Vegetable Cultivar Descriptions for North America.

Hialeah (FM216)– Breeder: Dr. G. Emery. Vendor: Ferry-Morse. Characteristics: Gatorgreen pods on an upright plant habit, excellent concentration of maturity and yield potential. Resistance: bean common mosaic virus. Similar: Gator Green 15. PVP. 1989.

To address your specific questions: According to NCAT agriculture specialist Nancy Matheson, any commercial seed company can supply untreated seed, upon request, but they may not feel it’s worth their while. The companies that stock ‘Hialeah’ cater to large commercial growers, for the most part, although the originator of ‘Hialeah,’Ferry-Morse, sells seeds by the retail packet in supermarkets and hardware stores. ‘Hialeah’ is a conventional hybrid, not a genetically engineered variety. “Seeds saved from hybrids will either be sterile or will begin reverting to one of the parent varieties during succeeding generations,” according to Suzanne Ashworth. This even applies to self-pollinated legumes such as Phaseolus spp. The Amended PVP Act (October 6, 1994) removed the farmer’s right to sell or trade seed descended from a PVP variety to his neighbor. In summary:

The seed you buy of a PVP protected variety includes the right to use the genetics of that variety on your farm, just as you would use computer software, for example; it does not include the right to reproduce the product to sell for planting to someone else. Farmers can produce and replant seed of a protected variety on the farm where the seed was produced, but cannot sell, trade, or transfer the seed by any other means to any one else for planting purposes. (Resource Seeds, Inc., p. 2)

For a list of seed suppliers for organic production, see ATTRA’s Suppliers of Seed for Certified Organic Production. ResourcesNienhuis, James, Michell E. Sass, and James R. Myers (ed.). [n.d.] Vegetable Cultivar Descriptions for North America. Bean–Green. University of Wisconsin, Oregon State University. http://cuke.hort.ncsu.edu/cucurbit/wehner/vegcult/beangrnal.html. Ashworth, Suzanne. 2002. Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners. Seed Savers Exchange, Decorah, IA. p. 14, 126. Janice M. Strachan. [2004]. Plant Variety Protection: An Alternative to Patents. www.nalusda.gov/pgdic/Probe/v2n2/plant.htmlAlso, Resource Seeds, Inc. [2004]. PVP – U.S. Plant Variety Protection Act as Amended 1994. [See Resource Seeds, Inc. PDF Library PVP Information for Growers]