|The red peas (L) are treated.|
Treated seeds were developed primarily so large scale growers could benefit from an early yield: treated seeds planted in cold damp soil in early spring are less likely to rot. This increases the germination rate and future yield. But if profit's not your motive, you can just wait until the time is right, when the soil's warmed appropriately for whatever seed variety you are putting into the ground, and you don't have to worry about rotting seeds. With increasing population, high-demand global markets and rising food prices, how could we ever wean ourselves from big ag's use of treated seeds?
As a small-scale grower or home gardener, we have the choice to buy treated, untreated conventional or organic seeds. When you buy seeds online you can be sure to check the box that says "will NOT accept treated seeds" if you plan on growing organically and you will never be shipped a treated product. But another way to avoid treated seeds is to save your own and maybe eve join a seed saver exchange. That way you and your fellow exchange members control both the seed and the growing conditions, ensuring a safer, more locally-appropriate crop.