Seen in → No.85
Restauranteur and seed entrepreneur Dan Barber with an interesting overview and history of the seed oligopoly. Only four giants dominate the business of patented seeds, including the Bayer-Monsanto juggernaut, giving them way too much power as they constantly reduce the number of varietals and the liberty of farmers. The latter are stuck in what amounts to an industrial production chain where they have to buy seeds every year, a “type of seed [which] also dictates the fertilizer, pesticide and fungicide regimen, sold by the same company as part of the package, requiring a particular planter and sprayer.” An unhealthy situation for producers, unhealthy for soil, less choice for consumers, and in many cases less flavour and nourishment.
Have a listen to Doctorow below, the monopoly / legislators combo he talks about for software is very similar to what agribusiness is doing.
And note the patent “moves” detailed by Barber, the same kind of land grab is happening right now (early stages) with DNA patents.
Just 50 years ago, some 1,000 small and family-owned seed companies were producing and distributing seeds in the United States; by 2009, there were fewer than 100. Thanks to a series of mergers and acquisitions over the last few years, four multinational agrochemical firms — Corteva, ChemChina, Bayer and BASF — now control over 60 percent of global seed sales. […]
Organic growing reduces the use of harmful chemicals, improves the soil’s ability to sequester carbon and retain water, and strengthens biodiversity. As the climate grows more severe and unpredictable, we will need seeds adapted to this kind of farming, and to their environments — precisely what a centralized, chemical-driven industry is not built to provide. […]
More than 90 percent of the 178 million acres of corn and soybeans planted last year in the United States were sown with genetically engineered seeds. […]
“Patents are completely unethical. We all need access to traits. My varieties are probably being used to create new varieties right now. I love that.”