Friday, December 10, 2010

Seed Wars

This was going to be Death of the Entrepreneur but I have changed it to seed wars.

Many people in my age group commented about the changes they have seen in the seed industry. "This conference used to fill three hotels until just a few years ago, now it fills one."

As the Round Up Ready trait in genetically modified seed became popular in the late 90's, Monsanto Company started buying out all the small companies who sold their seed or who would not sell their seed.

They offered lucrative deals. Small seed companies were offered millions of dollars based on their previous years sale of seed. It worked.

Only a few stalwarts stuck it out and just about every company signs some kind of agreement today with the major seed and trait suppliers.

I told LuAnn that and she said look at Lowe's and Walmart. Now there is little competition for the items they sell. They killed more mom and pop stores than Monsanto did seed companies as we as a society choose one stop shopping.

Is that really good for us? What happened to the entreprenurial spirit?

We debate about tax cuts in this country to help small business but we already allowed millions of them to be ate up or destroyed by big business.

I like to deal with the smaller companies. They have to be sharp and provide better service just to survive. I think that is true of the seed industry, too.

I won't be planting the number one brand on my farm this year.

It just doesn't fit in my seed war.



  1. The seed saving issue is a big one. Historically a farmer saved seed from his crop to plant next year's crop. With Monsanto's canola seed that practice is strictly prohibited.

  2. That has been a major sticking point with farmers since the Plant Variety Protection Act amendments were made in the 90's Ralph, for sure.

  3. I am a little late on this conversation.
    I wonder about the loss of regional varieties. Or do fewer varieties mean a higher risk of disease.
    We had to really search for non-GMO soybeans for our test plots last summer.
    Some GMO crops will cross pollinate and produce the traits some miles down wind and then Monsanto likes to sue those farmers. They Claim this is not true.
    BUT...I read in the Capital Press that GMO Bentgrass escaped in Oregon. "They" claim it blew out of a seed truck. I am not so sure. Round-up resistant bent grass sounds like a bit of a problem...

  4. I think we are all late, Budde, from the producer to the end user.

    The loss of local and regional seed companies and varieties is huge to me.

    I don't want my seed coming out of one gigantic pipeline owned by very few people.

    Cross polination is a big issue. I think it would be hard to find any non GMO seed anywhere in the world today. A scavanger hunt, no doubt.

    This thing was bigger than anyone ever imagined.

    The Terminator gene woke a few people up.


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