Saturday, May 8, 2010

Corporations Move in on Your Garden

Get your organic heirloom seeds now, before they're all patented and become extinct.

    Margot Ford McMillen
    Alternet -

    Is the home gardening trend just a growth industry for the corporates?
    The most important point is that the heirlooms are different than the Big Boys and Better Boys developed and patented by breeders. At least, that was the point when we started.

    Now it turns out that the seed geniuses, many housed at a university in your state, are hybridizing heirloom-like plants and, you guessed it, patenting the seeds. They have, in their minds, “improved” the plants. In the minds of the rest of us, we should recognize that they have patented and captured the plants that once were common property of gardeners who saved seeds.
    And here’s the really bad part, for all you that love the idea of gardening and farming as an independent gesture of self-sufficiency: 11,000 of the seed patents are owned by Monsanto. They now have an estimated 85-90% of the seed market in the US.

    Besides buying parts or all of the major seed companies, Monsanto is a supplier to many of the independents. Those folks may raise a portion of their own seeds, but they also buy in bulk and re-package because, it turns out, consumers are accustomed to such a huge selection that the independents, in order to compete, cannot grow all they need to satisfy buyers.

    So, while the hybrids are probably not genetically modified or in need of certain chemicals to survive, the door is open for that kind of manipulation by the mad scientists in the St. Louis suburbs.