This is a scary development, but it has been a long time in coming.
For many years the situation has been nearly the same. When farmers buy seeds from big agricultural seed producers the seeds have been bred to be genetic heterozygous hybrids (this simply means that the genetics of the seeds have been carefully bred for to take advantage of the genetic condition known as hybrid vigor). If the farmers try to harvest some of the seeds from the crop for planting the next year, the hybrid vigor is gone (has “broken down” in the geneticist’s jargon) and the resulting plants may be small, frail, susceptible to disease and the crop is generally lousy! The fact that the seeds are so poor in the second generation means farmers can’t grow “seed crops” anymore — they simply buy new seed every year. This, of course, keeps the seed producers in business and the farmers captive consumers. Not only is the food locked away from the public, it is locked away from the farmers!
Strangely enough, Monsanto’s plan is biologically sound. If you are trying to maximize food production in a crop, then biologically speaking, totally eliminating reproduction from the suite of jobs a plant has to do will yield bigger plants, larger fruits, larger (though sterile) seeds, etc. — a perfect solution to solve the problem of starving masses, eh? Wrong. This is simplistic thinking and is not “ecologically” sound. More food (more plants or larger plants) just means more people will be born as a result of the more food and there will be more mouths to feed in the future. Then we will need another solution to the problem.
How do we fight this? We start at the root — the vision these people have leads us on this unsustainable road. That vision has to change — this is what Ishmael was telling us. Vision changed, these farming practices will cease. Immediate action you can take? Buy local food. Support local (small) farmers. Make sure your local farmers are well informed.
NOTE: At the request of Daniel Quinn, this question was answered by Dr. Alan Thornhill.
NOTE: The question references these specific articles http://www.timesofindia.com/041298/04edit2.htm and http://www.timesofindia.com/030199/03busi3.htm and http://www.rafi.org/misc/terminator.html
posted: 06 Jun 1999
updated: 02 Jun 2001