‘If You Own the Seeds You Own the Food System’: Campaigners Demand Public Ownership to Counter Big Ag Privatization | Common Dreams News

A growing number of people around the world are calling for the public ownership of seeds, which they say is essential for a more democratic and ecologically sound food system, as the coronavirus-driven spike in empty supermarket shelves and the continued loss of biodiversity this year sparked a rise in the popularity of saving and swapping seeds and shed more light on the negative consequences of allowing a handful of agrochemical corporations to dominate the global seed trade.

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has estimated that since the beginning of the 20th century, roughly 75% of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops and 93% of unique seed varieties have disappeared. This biodiversity loss has been attributed to industrialized agriculture and what Genova called “the big boom in agrochemicals.”

As the FAO has explained, the increasingly commercialized nature of plant breeding has permitted transnational seed and agrochemical corporations—which enjoy so-called plant breeders’ rights that give “patent-like protection to breeders with limited monopoly rights over the production, marketing, and sale of their varieties”—to privatize access to genetic resources taken from countries in the global south.

‘If You Own the Seeds You Own the Food System’: Campaigners Demand Public Ownership to Counter Big Ag Privatization | Common Dreams News