The seed is starting to take shape as the site and symbol of freedom in the age of manipulation and monopoly of life. The seed is not big and powerful, but can become alive as a sign of resistance and creativity in th smallest of huts or gardens and the poorest of families. In smallness lies power. – Vandana Shiva
There’s an AP investigative report into Monsanto that suggests that the winner of the highly competetive “Evillest Corporation Ever” award has decided to raise the bar on evil further, trying to bring virtually all seed companies together under its own axis of evil.
“We now believe that Monsanto has control over as much as 90 percent of (seed genetics). This level of control is almost unbelievable,’ said Neil Harl, agricultural economist at Iowa State University who has studied the seed industry for decades. “The upshot of that is that it’s tightening Monsanto’s control, and makes it possible for them to increase their prices long term. And we’ve seen this happening the last five years, and the end is not in sight.”
At issue is how much power one company can have over seeds, the foundation of the world’s food supply. Without stiff competition, Monsanto could raise its seed prices at will, which in turn could raise the cost of everything from animal feed to wheat bread and cookies.
The price of seeds is already rising. Monsanto increased some corn seed prices last year by 25 percent, with an additional 7 percent hike planned for corn seeds in 2010. Monsanto brand soybean seeds climbed 28 percent last year and will be flat or up 6 percent in 2010, said company spokeswoman Kelli Powers.”
Even if Monsanto weren’t evil, no company should be allowed to control 90% of the seed supply for any staple foods, ever, under any circumstances. Even if we ignore Monsanto’s long persecution of farmers, its disregard for human welfare and its history of malfeasance, we’re left with a big problem. Not only could they raise prices, but they could dangerously reduce genetic diversity – and given what happened when Monsanto took over Seminis, eliminating thousands of open pollinated varieties from the seed trade, this is not an unreasonable concern. We know that without sufficient diversity, we are enormously vulnerable to disease and pest loss of food.
Their monopoly can drive farmers out of business and raise food prices. The only solution is anti-trust legislation at the government level, and a real effort to cut out or reduce Monsanto seed’s monopoly on staple food crops. That means those of us who can are obligated to seek out and source corn and soybeans from farmers who don’t use Monsanto GMOs, and to avoid buying processed food that contains them. We need to support farmers who want to make a shift to other varieties so that they can – sign up for Community Supported Grain programs, and ask local producers to grow non-Monsanto seed. Consider growing a small plot of staple foods in your garden from non-Monsanto sources.
We need to stop supporting Monsanto commercially in the garden seed trade – yes, this is a small portion of their business, but there’s no reason to subsidize them. Instead, seek out seed companies that eschew Monsanto/Seminis varieties including Fedco Seeds www.fedcoseeds.com, Baker Creek Heirlooms www.rareseeds.com, Seeds of Change www.seedsofchange.com, Seed Savers Exchange www.seedsavers,org and many others. It can be hard to give up favorite varieties – but the price is too high.
The simple truth is that seed as a commons is disappearing. The culture that for all of human history made seeds something to spread and share is disappearing. But we don’t need to allow it to go. Seeds are powerful. Get some good ones, save them and plant them.