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Over 76% of the Seed Market is Now Patented by Corporations

Christina Sarich
NationofChange / News Report
Published: Thursday 8 May 2014
Just six companies in the world have patented most of the seeds grown in the entire global agricultural market.
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Just six companies in the world have patented most of the seeds grown in the entire global agricultural market. Decisions made in high courts in the 1980s that favored the likes of Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta, Group Limagraine, Land ‘O Lakes/Winfield Solutions, KWS AG, Bayer, Dow and Sakata have given away our food heritage, built around thousands of years of agricultural knowledge, to a few greedy entities in just a few short decades, but seed saving might just halt this corporate greed and degradation of our food.

With corporate consolidation of our food supply and seed industry, the amounts and varieties of seeds are diminishing. “On average, across all crops grown in the US over 90% of the varieties grown 100 years ago are no longer in commercial production or maintained in major seed storage facilities.” Most scientists have warned that food diversity, just like biodiversity, is critical to future food stores, anddespite the astonishing pace of seed industry concentration, an estimated 1.4 billion people still depend on farmer-saved seeds – the vast majority of whom are based in the global South.

What is the number one trait that biotech seed has given the world? Is it food abundance, or higher levels of nutrition? How about better crop yields or chocolate flavored soybeans? The one thing these patented seeds have in common is herbicide resistance. One farm official in Arkansas has put it this way, “herbicide resistant weeds are the single largest threat to the production of agriculture we have ever seen.”

 Farmers everywhere were sold a biotech lie.


 

“Chemical weed control based on biotech’s HT seeds is a failing, unsustainable technology. Yet the Big Six are responding to the crisis of glyphosate resistant weeds by investing hundreds of millions on the development of a new generation of genetically engineered seeds that will survive spraying of two or more herbicides – including older, more toxic and environmentally hazardous ones – such as 2,4-D, a component of the Vietnam War defoliant, Agent Orange, and dicamba, which is chemically-related to 2,4-D.”

This is evidenced in Dow AgriScience’s latest attempt to have the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approve Enlist DUO, a ‘new’ herbicide that will contain both glyphosate and 2,4-D. The EPA held off on allowing Enlist for an entire year due to an onslaught of requests from the public demanding that this poison not be released into commercial agriculture, but now there is only a 30-day comment period available to those wishing to make a statement on its pending approval. 

The EPA has said in its “Proposed Registration of Enlist Duo Herbicide” that weeds are becoming increasingly resistant to glyphosate-based herbicides and are posing a problem for farmers. “If finalized, EPA’s action provides an additional tool to reduce the spread of glyphosate resistant weeds.”

The very act of trying to patent seeds developed over thousands of years, if not millennia, has created a devil’s lair. Plant GMO seed that is ‘herbicide resistant,’ watch it fail, even though millions of tons of glyphosate based toxins were sprayed on crops, then create yet another batch of toxic chemicals to try to control the new super weeds created by corporate greed.

Sri Lanka, and the Dutch Parliament have now banned glyphosate herbicides after watching the demolition of crops and pollinating insects. El Salvador did the same. But here is the larger problem – it isn’t just glyphosate that has been spread everywhere, in the form of Round Up, it’s a combination of 9 other ‘inert’ chemicals that are cytotoxic on their own, and a group of French researchers from the University of Caen found that when they are combined, they are even more toxic.

Scientists found that “one specific ‘inert’ ingredient,polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, was more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself – a finding the researchers call “astonishing.”

This means that no toxic chemicals are ‘inert’ and the new formulations made because glyphosate-based chemicals didn’t work, will likely be even more toxic than the last round.

What this will amount to without wide-spread, grass-roots effort is an extinction event like we have never witnessed. Saving your great-grandmother’s heirloom tomato seeds isn’t just an act of reminiscence and love, but an act of survival. Science knows far too little about the specific genes in plants, and epigenetics is now proving that a plant’s antioxidants are developed from its own complex system of protection as it grows. Plants are constantly adjusting to their environment. It isn’t just a matter of making a trait-specific plat in lab, and then sending it out into the world. Biotech has failed. For example: one heirloom tomato plant might grow well in drought and another might withstand a monsoon-like rainy season. One type of seed may have developed a natural resistance to blight or certain insects, but another grows even in extreme altitudes and severe cold.

 Our garden-variety plants can mostly be traced back to wild plants that grew in climates and environments that were much different than the plants we grow and eat today.  Just one ear of corn that you eat today, is the product of thousands of years of farmers saving the best seed from a wild variety, and planting a crop with life-saving traits. Hundreds of thousands of varieties of seed developed among thousand of farmers in different regions of the world. Take Mexico, for example, sometimes called the cradle of corn, grows more than 60 native varieties. They could all be wiped out in a single season of GMO planting.

Genetic diversity is like an insurance policy for a species. It we wipe out entire swaths of food crops in a few years, we are cashing in our insurance policies for negative returns. When a huge rice blight happened one year in India, agronomists (soil and plant scientists who work on crops) found an obscure rice variety that was resistant to the disease. Homogenizing our seed and growing only GMO will devastate our agricultural futures. What’s more is that super weeds insinuated into agriculture by ‘herbicide resistant’ GMO can, in fact, cause an entire crop to be blighted.Xanthomonas oryzae pv. Oryzae, for example, happens in tropical areas that have been overgrown with weeds.

Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta, Dow, Bayer and Group Limagraine – the Big Six – must be stopped. They aren’t selling agricultural success. They are selling death. You can participate in seed saving if you are already an organic gardener, and if you are a farmer, the whole world supports you in your refusal of glyphosate, 2,4-D and other chemical toxins on your farms. If you’ve never saved seed before, you can learn how to, here.

Here, also, are several seed saving sites where you can learn more and start sharing seed:

·     Seedsavers.org (around since 1975)

·     HeirloomSeedSwap.com

·     BountifulGardens.org

·     SeedSwaps.com

·     Garden.org



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