Grow Your Own From Seeds Corporates Don't Own

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Growing your own from seeds the corporates don't own

You won't believe this but the price of tomato seed has risen 1,000 fold since multinational corporations began breeding hybrid tomato seed.

A kilo of tomato seed which we describe as heirloom seed (i.e. open pollinated and passed down from generation to generation) can be bought for about $500 per kilo, but seed that has been hybridised by corporations costs nearly $500,000 a kilo — which is the rough equivalent of a modern Australian home. How is it that we let the corporates increase the price by about 1,000 fold?

The short answer is by deception!

When we buy the ubiquitous supermarket hybrid tomato it is unlabelled and its seed can't be collected for resowing, because it isn't true to type and, whilst it has the amazing appearance of a ripe tomato, in fact it never ripens. These devious plant breeders have inserted slowly ripening genes so this long life, rock hard fruit is literally capable of bouncing off the floor.

Is it any wonder that this anonymous tomato has the highest dissatisfaction rating of any ‘Fresh Food’ in the supermarkets? That means Australian tomato growers have to buy fresh seed each year from Monsanto or Syngenta or other multinationals.

So 22 years ago, having been deceived by multinational seed suppliers about the superiority of hybrids, Diggers began yield trials and taste tests of heirloom tomatoes versus hybrids. We found after 3 years of trials that we not only got better tomato yields from heirlooms but we got them for nearly every other heirloom crop too!

GM seeds changed everything

About 20 years ago Genetically Modified seeds were introduced (corn, soy, canola and cotton), which gave these companies patent rights, so the corporate profitability rose so rapidly that Monsanto bought out about 100 other seed companies. Monsanto, which was a chemical company, became the dominant vegetable seed company as well as controlling about 90% of the GM seed market.

In the last 40 years 10,000 seed companies have been effectively reduced to 6 corporate multinationals who now control 63% of the world's food supply that is seed driven.

In the past, universities bred nearly all the seed varieties farmers sowed and small farmers saved their own seed for resowing just as gardeners save heirlooms today.

But the huge corporates, like ocean sharks, are still not happy and they have begun devouring each other in the last 6 months. Bayer has made a takeover offer for the biggest seed company Monsanto. Chinese company Chemchina is awaiting approval to devour Syngenta. Dow and DuPont are merging. Only BASF is content.

What are the consequences of this monopolistic skulduggery?

When you buy supermarket hybrids and farmers plant GM crops you are effectively voting for commercial agriculture, synthetic chemicals and huge CO2 pollution.

Monoculture threatens biodiversity, which is our fail safe mechanism against pests. Our organic soil carbon declines and accelerates climate change.

And for gardeners by displacing home grown tomatoes with hybrids we have lost control of our seeds.

Clive Blazey (4 July 2016)

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