Do We Need
Organic plant breeding can improve farming yields by adapting crops to out-compete weeds, be efficient at nutrient uptake, and resilient to climate variability. Research from Washington State University showed that organic breeding can increase yield by as much as 31%.*
Murphy, Kevin et al. 2007. Evidence of varietal adaptation to organic farming systems. Field Crops Research. 102, 172-177.
How is Our Tax $ Spent on Seed?
There’s a lack of breeding for organic in the public sector. Over a three-year period, plant biotechnology research received $54 million in public funding while only $775,000 went to organic seed research – that’s a disparity of 70 to 1.*
There’s a lack of breeding for organic and local needs in the private sector due to concentration of ownership. Five companies control 60% of the global seed market. These companies focus on developing food crops dependent on toxic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer.*
Hubbard, K. 2009. Out of Hand: Consequences of a Consolidate Seed Industry. Farmer to Farmer Campaign. http://farmertofarmercampaign.com/Out%20of%20Hand.FullReport.pdf . Accessed November 2012.
Should we allow patents on life?
Patents on living organisms allow companies to concentrate ownership of seed, slowing innovation. One patent application tied up 463,173 distinct genes. Patents are even granted on naturally occurring characteristics - for example, there’s a patent on broccoli’s ability to grow in hot conditions!*
Jefferson, Richard. 2007. Promiscuous Patenting: Why does a dog lick himself? US patent application 2007/00678650A1. http://blogs.cambia.org/raj/2007/04/03/why-does-a-dog-lick-himself/ Accessed November 2012
Heat Tolerant Broccoli. US Patent 6294715. http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6294715.html
Is seed saving a crime?
Patents restrict innovation of public and private plant breeders – as well as making farmer seed saving illegal – ending a 12,000 year tradition of crop improvement! In 1960 seed saving was practiced by 63% of US soybean farmers. Today less than 10% save seed.*
Mascarenhas, Michael and L. Busch. Seeds of Change: Intellectual Property Rights, Genetically Modified Soybeans and Seed Saving in the United States. 2006. European Society for Rural Sociology. Vol46, Number 2.
Cornejo-Fernandez, Jorge. 2004. The Seed Industry in U.S. Agriculture. USDA-Economic Research Service Agriculture Information Bulletin. No 786.
Has industrial breeding improved our food?
Research from Texas A&M shows breeding crops for industrial agriculture over the last 50 years is a major factor in nutrient decline of 43 food crops. The declines range from 6% for protein to 38% for riboflavin, and also include reductions in calcium, phosphorous, iron and ascorbic acid.*
Davis, Donald R. 2009. Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition: What Is the Evidence? HortScience, Vol 44, 17-19