Seeds & Genetic Diversity

Name

Seeds & Genetic Diversity

For more than 30 years, ETC Group (first as RAFI) has monitored technologies and corporate mergers & acquisitions (M&As) related to seeds, the first link in the food chain. Throughout the 1970s, we witnessed petrochemical and pharmaceutical companies (e.g., Royal Dutch/Shell, Occidental Petroleum, Ciba-Geigy, Union Carbide, Upjohn Pharmaceutical) scoop up thousands of small, family-owned seed companies. By the 1980s, a “life industry” had emerged – seeds, agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals (both livestock and human) – which became all the more entangled by the development and commercialisation of proprietary biotechnologies (genetic engineering). Corporate concentration in the commercial seed sector meant a dramatic loss of genetic diversity as companies offered only the most profitable lines of seeds for sale and abandoned the rest. Intellectual property regimes (primarily patents and Plant Breeders’ Rights) soon extended to all biological products and processes, and further rewarded uniformity. With the privatisation of plant breeding, public breeding programs withered, reinforcing corporate consolidation in the seed and agrochemical industry.  The late 1990s brought the development of seed sterilization technologies (a. k. a. Terminator), intended to restrict farmers' right to save and replant seed. Today, the world's 10 biggest seed companies control almost three-quarters of the commercial seed market.

 

News and Reports about Seeds & Genetic Diversity

Peasant-led Agroecology and Food Sovereignty Feeds the World 18 Feb 2019
Landmark Convention on Biological Diversity decision calls on governments to conduct strict risk assessments and seek indigenous and local peoples’ consent ahead of potential release of ‘exterminator’ technology. 29 Nov 2018
20 years after suicide seeds, civil society mobilizes in Egypt this week to stop the sequel – Gene Drive Organisms 15 Nov 2018
New Report exposes how a controversial genetic forcing technology is targeting the farm 16 Oct 2018
Industrial food chain concentration, Big Data platforms and food sovereignty solutions 15 Oct 2018
Is the Industrial Food Chain Unravelling... or Rewinding? 15 Oct 2018
Mega-mergers and the concentration of power in the agri-food sector 22 Aug 2018
Regulatory change would spread modified genetic traits to wild organisms 22 Feb 2018
New report from ETC Group tells a shocking tale of two food systems 16 Oct 2017