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|Sun Gold Tomato||Moulin Rouge Sunflower||Bushel Gourd|
Some plants, through nature or human tampering, just don’t produce seed easily or at all, so the question is almost moot. Take something like garlic, for instance, where the cloves are separated off the bulb for replanting and we always get an exact copy.
This might sound like a dream come true after the last few pages, but there’s one other problem to consider: disease
The Banana Problem
Did you know that genetically, there’s only 1 Cavendish banana plant in the world? How about: why do banana flavored candies taste so… wrong?
Over time, we’ve modified bananas to the point that they don’t produce seeds. That’s pretty great as far as taste and texture go, but it means that the only way to reproduce them is to make clones. Up until the 1950s, the most popular banana sold in stores was the Gros Michel banana, which was smaller, sweeter and had that particular molasses-y aftertaste found in chicklets and other classic candies.<//p>
After a devastating outbreak of panama disease, producers world wide were forced to find and switch to a different banana cultivar, because every Gros Michel banana clone had the same susceptibility as the parent plant. Now, we’re facing the same problem with the Cavendish.
Should Seeds be Copyrighted?
For the home gardener that’s probably most of what you need to consider, but the issue is slightly thornier if you’re saving or trading seeds, running a CSA service, etc.
In some parts of the world it is illegal to sell seeds of cultivars (hybrids or varieties produced by selective breeding) that have not been approved for sale by their government, while other areas like Columbia are considering laws to make seed saving itself illegal. In Pennsylvania, a community seed library prompted patent claims on the part of big seed companies, taking multiple years and miles of red tape to resolve.
Another fact to consider: without the ongoing growing and storage of heirloom seeds, big seed companies and our governments will eventually be the only ones with control over what (and perhaps if) crops are grown, even at home. Whatever your politics happen to be, we can all agree that this is not ideal.
What can you do about it? Garden! Save your seeds, trade them with friends, and teach the next generation where our food ultimately comes from. Start a community garden, seed library or CSA service, or just save a few seeds back the next time you grow an heirloom tomato.
You might change the world, and you’ll definitely change you and your community’s lives for the better.