IN RECENT YEARS Canadians have become more and more concerned about the origins oftheir food and the environmental impacts of pesticides in agriculture. What is less well knownis that pesticide corporations such as Monsanto and Du Pont have bought their way into the seed industry and are taking control of what was once the exclusive domain of farmers.InGood Crop/ Bad Crop, Devlin Kuyek deftly examines the economic and environmental background of the modern seed trade from a Canadian perspective. Historically seeds were viewed more as public goods than as commodities, and plant breeding objectives were widely shared by scientists, governments, and farmers. Now that approach is changing; seeds have become increasingly commodified, and plant breeding has become subject to corporate priorities. Farmers and citizens in Canada, Kuyek points out, need to heed the hard-won lessons from the developing world, where farmers greatly damaged by the much-heralded approaches of theGreen Revolution are now taking steps to reclaim control over seed supplies, food security, and their futures.
Devlin Kuyek is a researcher with GRAIN, an international organization which promotes local control over biodiversity and knowledge. He is the author ofThe Real Board of Directors: The Construction of Biotechnology Policy in Canada.
Kuyek tells an important story about the very foundation of food.
A manifesto, a call for Canadians to rise up against the cabal of multinational corporations that have hijacked national agricultural policies.
For all the good that urban agriculture may achieve, it won't prevent seed commodification from handing our entire countryside to Monsanto and their friends. This doesn't mean the values underlying small-scale alternatives aren't of any use. Our challenge is to think them through at a larger scale, and…Kuyek [has] planted the right ideas.
In just over a hundred pages, Devlin gives a detailed, thoughtful and thorough overview of the history and current battles around seed…This is a book with a bounty of information, from the story of Percy Schmeiser with acute and insightful analysis to the conditions facing people of colour as migrant labourers. If you're interested in genetic diversity, seed politics and corporate power in the Global North, Devlin's book is well worth getting your hands on.