The Challenge

Building a better seed industry

Agriculture depends on seeds that help farmers produce healthy, high yielding crops with minimal inputs. In the first 150 years of our nation’s history, our government focused on finding and improving plant varieties as an investment in our nation’s wealth and its citizen’s well-being. In the 1920s, the model began to shift to private investment that drove the decision process towards commercial success instead of the broader needs of society. That has reached a point today where much of the world’s commodity crop seed (corn, soybeans, cotton, etc.) is owned by a handful of large agrichemical companies and improvement of our food supply is dangerously underfunded.

In order to fund their work, plant breeders of all types are forced into a model that requires them to sell their work to the highest bidder. Unfortunately, the highest bidders are the large agrichemical companies and they use patent laws to restrict access to seeds and genetic material once they own them. All of the decisions about investments in our food supply are driven by the return to shareholder of these companies.

As seed and chemical companies continue to merge, limited competition in the seed industry harms crop biodiversity. Large companies focus primarily on a handful of globally grown crops, like corn, soybeans and wheat. Yet tens of thousands of other edible and useful plants for agriculture that could contribute to holistic soil management and reduced synthetic chemical usage, remain unimproved. Plant breeders focused on these less studied crops need more opportunities for funding and support to bring new varieties to farmer’s fields.

 

What can we do?

A new model and funding system for a fair and open seed industry is needed to ensure a sustainable, climate adapted food system for the future. The People’s Seed will help search for solutions and develop strategies to grow in a better direction. We need to build a better seed industry. 

And you can help. Spread the word on social media. And make a tax deductible donation if you can.

Next: The Solution