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Seed, concentrated

(article, Culinate staff)

Most of the press about genetically modified food has gone to the maybes: the as-yet-unknown environmental, agricultural, and health consequences of growing and eating GM food. The nonprofit Farmer to Farmer Campaign on Genetic Engineering, however, has just released a report, called "Out of Hand," about the definite effects of the GM industry on seed biodiversity — or, rather, the lack thereof. 

Why has the spread of GM farming in the U.S. led to less seed biodiversity? As the report points out, GM seed companies focus on producing fewer seed varieties, patenting them, and charging more for those seed varieties that are available. And the companies themselves are consolidating; again, the report notes that the Monsanto Company has become the nation's dominant seed company through acquisitions and mergers, accounting today for 60 percent of the corn and soybean seed markets as well as nearly 100 percent of the country's corn and soybean acreage.

Things may change, however; as the report notes, "the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Justice have launched a joint investigation into anticompetitive practices in agriculture." Trust-busting, in other words. Maybe.