Thursday, October 23, 2014

Seed patent primer: Is the use of GMOs preventing farmers from reusing their seeds?

XiaoZhi Lim | October 21, 2014 | Genetic Literacy Project

Anti-GMO campaigners often attack Monsanto and other large agricultural companies for suing farmers who illegally save their seeds and replant them. But most non-GMO seeds as well as genetically modified versions are patent protected for companies to recoup their investment costs. If these intellectual protection rights were removed, would farmers go back to saving seeds and replanting them in subsequent years?

In some cases, yes. Some crops are able to produce viable seed that can be saved and replanted to yield offspring that perform similarly to their parents. But for other crops, most notably hybrid corn, no. In the case of crops that have been improved by hybridization in conventional breeding, saving seeds for replanting doesn’t make sense as any saved seed will not perform as well as their parents.

Let’s take a look at the process of hybridization in conventional breeding. Hybridization is when breeders take two distinct, but related plants and mate them, commonly by pollinating the plants by hand. For example, a breeder could cross a big corn plant that is susceptible to disease with another that is small but more resistant to disease to produce a hybrid plant that is both big and resistant to disease. This resulting hybrid plant is called F1 hybrid (first-filial generation).....To Read More....

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