The end of farm-saved seed ?

GRAIN Briefing, february 2007, 14 p. (pdf)

, by GRAIN

The big players in the world seed industry are grumbling about loopholes in the plant variety protection system, which was the alternative to patenting that they set up in the 1960s. The Europeans want to get rid of farmers’ limited entitlement to save seed. The Americans want to restrict the exemption by which breeders have the free use of each other’s commercial varieties for research purposes.

In both cases, the point is to reduce competition and boost profits. In the short term, the victims will be farmers, who will probably end up paying the seed giants an additional US$7 billion each year. But in the long run, we will all lose from the growing corporate stranglehold over our food systems. This briefing traces the recent discussions within the seed industry and explores what will happen if a plant variety right becomes virtually indistinguishable from a patent.