Seed saving

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Partial shelled popcorn seed saved for planting

In agriculture and gardening, seed saving (sometimes known as brownbagging[1]) is the practice of saving seeds or other reproductive material (e.g. tubers) from vegetables, grain, herbs, and flowers for use from year to year for annuals and nuts, tree fruits, and berries for perennials and trees.[2] This is the traditional way farms and gardens were maintained.

In recent decades,[which?] there has been a major shift to purchasing seed annually from commercial seed suppliers, and to hybridize or clone plants that do not produce seed that remains "true to type"-retaining the parent's characteristics- from seed. Much of the grassroots seed-saving activity today is the work of home gardeners.

Open Pollination[edit]

Open pollination is an important aspect of seed saving. Plants that reproduce through natural means tend to adapt to local conditions over time, and evolve as reliable performers, particularly in their localities, known as landraces or "folk varieties."

Method[edit]

To be successful at seed saving, new skills need to be developed that enhance the capacity of growers to ensure that desired characteristics are retained in their landraces: learning the minimum number of plants to be grown which will preserve inherent genetic diversity, recognizing the preferred characteristics of the cultivar being grown so that plants that are not breeding true are selected against, understanding and promoting the breeding of improvements to the cultivar, using seed storage methods that maintain viability, learning the conditions that maximize germination, and detecting the presence of diseases that are seed-borne so that they can be eliminated.

Care must be taken, as training materials regarding seed production, cleaning, storage, and maintenance often focus on making landraces more uniform, distinct and stable (usually for commercial application) which can result in the loss of valuable adaptive traits unique to local varieties (Jarvis et al., 2000).

Additionally, there is a matter of localized nature to be considered. In the upper northern hemisphere, and lower southern, one sees a seasonal change in terms of a cooler winter. Many plants go-to-seed and then go dormant. These seeds must hibernate until their respective spring season.

Legality[edit]

While saving seed and even exchanging seed with other farmers for biodiversity purposes has been a traditional practice, these practices have become illegal for the plant varieties that are patented or otherwise owned by some entity (often a corporation).[2] Under Article 28 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement), "planting, harvesting, saving, re-planting, and exchanging seeds of patented plants, or of plants containing patented cells and genes, constitutes use" and is prohibited by the intellectual property laws of signatory states.[2]

Significantly, farmers in developing countries are particularly affected by prohibitions on seed saving. There are some protections for re-use, called "farmer's privilege", in the 1991 International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV Convention), but seed exchange remains prohibited.[2]

In the United States, by contrast, the farmer's privilege is considered protected by the Plant Variety Protection Act and by case law stemming from Asgrow Seed v. Winterboer. American farmers may sell seed up to the amount saved for replanting their own acreage.[3]

Diamond v. Chakrabarty established that companies may obtain patents for life-forms. J.E.M. Ag Supply v. Pioneer established that seed saving is a patent violation.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bruce Hotchkiss (2012). "Monsanto: Farmers permitted to ‘brown bag’ seeds". American Farm Publications, Inc. 
  2. ^ a b c d Kerstin Mechlem and Terry Raney (2007). "Agricultural Technology and the Right to Food". In Francesco Francioni. Biotechnologies and International Human Rights. Hart Publishing. p. 156. ISBN 1-84113-703-0. 
  3. ^ The Crucible II Group (2001). Seeding Solutions. IPGRI. ISBN 92-9043-499-6. 
  4. ^ http://neuro.law.cornell.edu/supct/search/display.html?terms=patent&url=/supct/html/99-1996.ZS.html

Jarvis, D., B. Sthapit, and L. Sears (eds.). 2000. Conserving agricultural biodiversity in situ: a scientific basis for sustainable agriculture. Proceedings of a workshop. Rome, Italy: IPGRI.

Further reading[edit]

  • Seed Saving Tools & Education, The SeedKeepers Blog
  • Ashworth, Suzanne & Whealy, Kent; Seed to Seed: Seed Saving Techniques for the Vegetable Gardener, Seed Savers Exchange, 2002. ISBN 978-1-882424-58-0
  • Beck, Edward; A Packet of Seeds Saved by an Old Gardener, 2008. ISBN 978-0-559-85468-2
  • Deppe, Carol; Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2000. ISBN 978-1-890132-72-9
  • Fanton, Michel and Jude; "The Seed Savers' Handbook", Seed Savers' Network, 1993. ISBN 0-646-10226-5
  • Mcgrath, Mike; Save and sow seeds of your favourite vegetables, Quirk Books (Stati Uniti), 2009. ISBN 978-1-59474-289-7
  • Vellve, Renee; Saving the seed: genetic diversity and european agriculture, Londra, Earthscan Publications, 1992. ISBN 1-85383-150-6
  • Whealy, Kent; Garden Seed Inventory: An Inventory of Seed Catalogs Listing All Non-Hybrid Vegetable Seeds Available in the United States and Canada, Seed Savers Exchange, 2005. ISBN 978-1-882424-60-3
  • An Introduction to Seed Saving for the Home Gardener, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Bulletin 2750

External links[edit]