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Mark Schapiro was one of the first reporters to write about the seed crisis, 30 years ago. His new book defines the critical issues of corporate control, and dedicated seed preservationists around the world.Schapiro, a working journalist who lectures at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, has just published Seeds of Resistance: The Fight to Save Our Food Supply. The interview was produced for Marin TV, and you can watch the video here.
Schapiro explains his first coverage of seed issues, when the US corn crop collapsed due to blight, and he learned that most of the US corn crop was based on just 4 seed species. We discuss how court rulings allowed companies to patent characteristics of seeds that paved the way for corporate consolidation of our seed inventories. Now, more than half our seeds are controlled by 3 big companies, who "rent" seeds in combination with powerful chemicals like glyphosate.
We also talk about the shift to organic farming and the big subsidies that allow the sale of non-organic foods at lower prices. We go back 100 years to learn about the work of American botanist Luther Burbank and his Russian counterpart, Nicolay Vavilov. And we salute groups and individuals who are working to preserve traditional seed stocks at public libraries and other repositories.