J500 Media and the Environment


Super Seeds by amandat09
February 13, 2009, 2:54 pm
Filed under: Energy + Climate, Food + Health, Society + Media | Tags: , ,

The world’s population is expected to read 9 billion in a few short decades. More food will be needed for those 3 billion more mouths, and Monsanto thinks it has the answers. By improving yields through their seeds, they say they can improve water quality and the lives of farmers.

Really?

Monsanto produces modified hybrid seeds to sell to farmers, with the expectation that these seeds will increase farmer’s yields. But the farmers aren’t allowed to grow their own seeds from Monsanto’s and replant them. The seeds are patented, so this would technically be illegal- they have to keep buying seeds every season. They have to come back to the seed company for pesticides and chemicals in order to make them grow properly. But if their neighbors use is and get a higher yield, don’t they have to buy them to keep up?

photo from pacificseed.com

photo from pacificseed.com

Reading about big seed companies like this one makes me think of how we got here. I think of the Green Revolution. The invention of pesticides created the ability to feed more mass numbers of people, in a way allowing the world population to grow to its current rate. Would we be able to feed 6 billion people without pesticides and mass farming? Probably not. Can we feed the expected 9 billion people in 2050 without them?

Right now, we have enough food in the world to feed every mouth. But food distribution is so out of whack because of political pressures, poverty and social inequality that it doesn’t seem like enough. Seeds for farming have become such a globalized, controlled-by-the-few thing, that it is disconnected from many peoples’ lives. If more food actually was grown sustainably and locally, maybe this would be different. Wouldn’t it be simpler if more communities had a direct hand in the food they ate? It seems like we’ve come so far in terms of industrialization and development, only to realize that going back to the basics of food production may be the best route after all.

-Amanda Thompson

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6 Comments so far
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I know this may not be the most popular opinion but I think there needs to be population control. The fact of the matter is the world cannot sustain billions more people. The environment is going to self destruct all around us and it’s scary to think about. Coming up with all these genetically modified seeds that allow for greater yields is doing us all a disservice.

Comment by christinaw09

You know, I thought a lot about the things you brought up in this article, and the truth I kept circling back to is some climates just don’t have the right factors to grow the right foods to sustain the community. I really wish we could have the local economies Judy Wicks talked about, but where would it leave those communities living in deserts and places that can’t grow grain? I really couldn’t think my way out of that one …

Comment by alyv

Seed monopolies like Monsanto also support a monoculture form of agriculture, which is not only horrible for the environment but a very fragile way to feed the growing population. One bad season, one changed climatic factor, one diseased harvest can echo through whole populations of people. A different path definitely needs to be sown (pun!)

p.s. I agree that population control must be considered. However, I think we both know that option is not an option for many, if not most, people.

Comment by janiec52

Monsanto’s monopoly allows them to do whatever they want. They control the food, they control the power. I think knowledge about this is the first step in making a difference.

Comment by tylerw09

I really like the last paragraph of your post because it’s a thought that I’ve been grappling with recently: We built everything up, so will it come crashing down? And then from those ashes will something big come up again? Is business this cyclical?

In this pattern, I can’t decide if local food stands a chance. Someone will always gain the upper hand and buy out others, creating a strangle-hold on the market. And then some crisis will erupt (see Microsoft, et al.), which gives way to small businesses again.

Comment by Lauren Keith

Aly,
You’re right in that some places around the US can’t sustain a local food economy because the land isn’t fit for growing in the first place. Which leads me to think back again, how did we get into that pickle? If we were really thinking sustainably, people wouldn’t be living like they do desert areas in the southwest. The only reason they have what food land and trees they do have is because of irrigation. Why is it that people are living and growing where nature didn’t intend them to? Innovation and progress seem kind of backward sometimes.

Comment by amandat09




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