Life begins with a seed. People have planted seeds for thousands of years - collecting seeds and saving them until the next planting season, watching them grow, harvesting them again, selecting seeds from the best plants and not eating them, saving them until the next planting season, all the way until today, in 2008. Every seed comes from another seed. Seeds are an unbroken chain of continuity in the long survival of humans. Our history cannot be unwound from seeds because whatever the time or place, seeds have been planted and harvested and saved.
Companies now own seeds and farmers don’t have the right to save them. Own seeds? Own the very spit of life inside them? No you say – it can’t be! It shouldn’t be. There are two huge disasters wound up in the ownership of seeds. First, we lose genetic diversity. And this “we” is the human race. Sure, there are seed banks where certain people might have access to the genetic material kept there, but seeds are living, changing things, and if we plant only ten varieties of corn on ninety million acres instead of two thousand seven hundred varieties on one million acres, we’re compromising our future.
What is genetic diversity? A well rounded football team. What is a monoculture? A football team with twelve running backs – on offense and defense. It’s great to have a good running back but you sure as heck want other players, too. Our agricultural landscape is an enormous monoculture and the possibility of losing our vegetable varieties permanently is here. The second disaster is the acceptance that companies can own seeds, which are a central part of our human heritage. It’s like a company saying they own fire.
For thousands of years people saved seed - the countless small farmers around the world. Ownership of seed is the twenty-first century equivalent of land enclosures. We are being robbed of our common, human heritage of seed that’s been collected and selected and passed on generation after generation. And now companies come along, change something in a seed , and say they own it. Bullshit! They have no right to ownership over the genetic material that has been collected and saved and shared for millennia. Even the ubiquitous Roundup Ready soybeans, which have foreign genetic material inserted into them so that the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) doesn’t kill them, are still mostly non-Monsanto genetic material. What right does Monsanto have to claim ownership over all that commonly held genetic material? There should be a class action lawsuit against Monsanto for stealing our heritage.
birch and grasses alone on the snow, grey sky indistinguishable. the flat world falls into the edge of time, lifeless, dull wedge of horizon and soundless ...