A biological obstacle

The biotechnology revolution robs the seed of its fertility and self-regenerative capabilities, colonizing it in two major ways: through technical means and through property rights.

Processes like hybridization are the technological means that stop seed from reproducing itself. This is an effective way of circumventing natural constraints on the commodification of the seed. Hybrid varieties do not produce true-to-type seed, and farmers must return to the breeder each year for new seed stock.

To use Jack Kloppenburg’s description of the seed: it is both a means of production and a product. Farmers all over the world do not only produce a product, they also reproduce the means of production, and the seed thus presents corporations with a biological obstacle. Modern plant breeding has been an attempt to remove this biological obstacle, to transform the seed into a mere product by removing its capacity to reproduce itself.

– Vandana Shiva, “Biopiracy: the plunder of nature and knowledge”, p53, paraphrased.

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