About Our Seeds
Why Save Seeds?
CR Lawn, 2001
- To renew your age-old partnership with
plants. Seeds are the life force. Plants, as living beings,
desire to reproduce. By allowing them to go to seed and complete
their growth cycle, you cooperate in a process essential to all
life forms on Earth.
- To retain control of your food supply.
Some things are too important to allow other people to do for you.
Food is a basic necessity and the cornerstone of our culture. Control
of the seed is key to control of our food supply. By saving seeds
you retain that lifeline. Over the past two generations, the seed
industry has done almost no work to maintain, improve or develop
open-pollinated varieties that will come true from seed. What little
has been done has been accomplished by dedicated amateur seed savers
and breeders. We need more such people. Instead, the industry has
emphasized hybrid varieties whose breeding lines are trade secrets
and whose seed will not come true to type. Lately, biotechnology
research has almost completely replaced classical plant breeding
at our universities and in the seed industry.
- To preserve our heritage and our biodiversity.
Farmers saved seeds and improved food crops for millennia. Seed
companies have been on the scene for fewer than three centuries.
Only in the last hundred years have farmers and gardeners become
widely dependent on seed companies. Today the seed industry is so
concentrated that just five large multinational corporations control
75% of the world’s vegetable seed market. They add and drop
varieties according to their own financial interests. Many of our
present varieties have only one commercial source. If they are dropped,
they will disappear and you won’t be able to get them—unless
you save seed.
- To preserve the varietal characteristics
you want. Most varieties being developed by the industry
are for large-scale food processors and marketers. For the most
part, they are bred for uniform ripening, long distance shipping,
and perfect appearance at the expense of taste and staggered ripening.
If you want the best-tasting varieties, save your own seed from
the ones you like.
- To develop and preserve strains adapted
to your own growing conditions. The large corporations
who control the seed trade bought out scores of small and regional
seed companies and dropped many of the regional specialties. They
are interested only in varieties with widespread adaptability. If
you want varieties and strains best adapted to your specific climate
conditions, you can get them only by saving your own seed. Over
several generations, seeds can develop very specific adaptability
to the conditions at your site.
- To help preserve our right to save
seeds. The industry continues to place more and more restrictions
on farmers’ and gardeners’ right to save seeds. Variety
patenting, licensing agreements, and restricted lists such as that
maintained by the European Union, are industry tools to wrest control
of the seed from the commons and keep it for themselves. Terminator
Technology, now in its developmental phase, would render seeds sterile,
making it impossible for farmers to save seed and forcing users
back to the seed companies for every new crop.
- To increase our available options.
Contrary to industry claims, patenting has not encouraged creative
plant breeding. Instead it has reduced cooperation among plant breeders
and restricted availability of germplasm and plant varieties. Compare
the large volume of breakthrough varieties developed prior to the
1980 Diamond v. Chakrabarty Supreme Court decision that opened the
floodgates to plant patenting to the rather modest plant breeding