A recent report launched by Save our Seeds (SOS) Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers. Highlights disturbing facts about the current state of our seed supply. The patent regime of the large seed companies has all but taken away our human rights to own and propagate seeds.
Our species rose up from hunter gatherers and began planning crops somewhere around 4000 BC. This was a radical shift in our species that lead to the development of rich social organizations in Ur, Babylon, Athens and Rome. The basic tenet of this “revolution” was that humans (Homo Sapiens) could reproduce crops and have food security by saving and replanting seeds. Through this seed movement we domesticated animals, developed writing and laid the foundation for the horticultural and industrial ages. I would posit that saving, and planting seeds is a basic human right we established some 6000 years ago. This right lies at the root of our human development.
At this time we are navigating dangerous waters in a tide of massive sea change. In the last two decades the rise of patented seeds has increased exponentially. The SOS report displays how the current seed patent regime has led to a radical shift to consolidation and control of the global seed supply. No longer is it easy for farmers to gain access to Non GMO seeds, to save and replant the seeds from their past crops nor gain access to bio-diverse seed stocks. Farmers are at the mercy of the corporate giants and quite frankly so may be humanity.
Among the report’s discoveries are several alarming statistics:
- Today, three corporations control 53 percent of the global commercial seed market
- Seed consolidation has led to market control resulting in dramatic increases in the price of seeds. From 1995-2011, the average cost to plant one acre of soybeans has risen 325 percent; for cotton prices spiked 516 percent and corn seed prices are up by 259 percent.
- As of January 2013, Monsanto, alleging seed patent infringement, had filed 144 lawsuits involving 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses in at least 27 different states.
- More than 26 percent more chemicals per acre are used on GE crops than on non-GE crops, according to USDA data.
Additionally, the Center for Food Safety http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Seed-Giants_final.pdf reports a precipitous drop in seed diversity that has been cultivated for millennia. As the report notes: 86% of corn, 88% of cotton, and 93% of soybeans farmed in the U.S. are now genetically-engineered (GE) varieties, making the option of farming non-GE crops increasingly difficult.
All farmers should be able to purchase and save the seeds that they choose. Organic farmers need more access and research on organic seeds in order to increase organic acreage each year. Human-kind deserves to know that their food supply is not patented and owned by a few corporations. Our Food security hangs in the balance