How can we create a sustainable seed system in America?



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    What aspect(s) of the way seeds are currently produced in the US do you consider to be unsustainable?

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      My concern is that seed variations and are increasingly held by a handful of large companies. It seems to me that having a small group of entities control the vast majority of seeds is an untenable situation that is bound to lead to food shortages when these companies have problems. See the sub-prime meltdown for an example of the risks of having a small group of companies hold enormous sway over a specific sector of the market.

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      Alright. Well the best way I can think of to combat the increased centralization of the seed business into a few big companies to get more funding to the big agricultural universities for applied agricultural research and seed development. Decades ago, most seed varieties were actually developed by universities, and there were a lot more small and medium sized seed companies that focused mostly on seed production and sales of varieties developed by public sector researchers.

      Today more and more of the effort that goes into developing lines of seeds is done by the companies themselves. Small and medium sized seed companies can’t afford to spend enough on that to keep up with the giant seed companies, so many of them have had to either license seeds or traits from the big seed companies, or have simply been bought out entirely by the big players in the industry. The situation is made even worse because the decline of funding at universities means we are no longer training nearly enough new plant breeders every year and the big seed companies can afford to offer the few plant breeders who do graduate a lot more money.

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      Thank you so much!! What a wonderful answer. I hadn’t thought of that– but of course, the key is increased funding/research at the university level. Too bad we’re going in the wrong direction on that front right now. Anyways, thanks again. That really helps open up my thinking about the situation.

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