Why Farmers Can’t Legally Replant Their Own Seeds (2024)


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The other day I was picking seeds out of a tomato, which is what I do in my free time and I was like man, there are more than 200 seeds in here.

This farming stuff is for Chumps.

If I planted these 200 seeds, I would get 200 tomatoes and, if I planted the seeds from those Tomatoes I would have 4 000 tomatoes do that four more times and I'd have 320 billion Tomatoes sell each of those tomatoes for ten dollars at the farmer's market and boom I'm a trillionaire, but then I learned that there was one little hiccup with my plan: Farmers, don't replant their own seeds anymore.

They just throw them out.

Why? Well? According to the official manual for defending billion dollar agriculture companies, saving seeds leads to all sorts of crazy problems like reduced crop, yield susceptibility to disease, and quote you getting dumped by your girlfriend for using seeds every year like a dirty loser.

Farmer, instead of buying monsanto's new tricked out seeds with all the latest features but I'm, not sure that's reliable source, since the last 80 pages are just the words maniacal laughter over and over again.

In truth, there are some practical distance advantages to saving seeds, but the real reason farmers stopped doing it after thousands of years is that a couple of companies figured out a way to make replanting your own seeds illegal, almost anywhere in the world.

How do they do it? Well, it's a little complicated.

You see.

Saving and replanting seeds has been an important part of farming ever since farming was discovered by William Von farming pictured here, but that practice got more complicated in the 1930s when we decided to invent inventing plants.

Of course, humans have been cultivating new breeds of plants for as long as we've been growing them, but there was one huge problem with that: no one had gotten filthy rich off of it.

Yet so in the 1930s, the U.S federal government passed the plant patent act and for the first time anywhere in the world, people could legally claim that a plant was their intellectual property.

Of course, this didn't apply to naturally occurring plants.

You couldn't just walk outside in 1930 and claim that grass was your idea.

God filed that patent 55 million years ago to patent a plant, at least in the United States.

You have to prove that you cultivated a distinct new variety of plant and are capable of making more of it.

Just as example.

Here's the patent for plums, it says Plum and has a picture of a plum I, don't know what more you would need now at first.

This patent law didn't really affect the way that farmers farmed up until the 90s.

There were only 120 patented plants and Farmers didn't generally grow or harvest them, but that all changed when a little mom-and-pop industrial chemical manufacturer called Monsanto had the wise idea to shift their business model from selling plant poison to selling plants that couldn't be killed by their own plant poison.

These Roundup Ready crops, mostly soybeans and corn, quickly took over nearly every Farm in the U.S and many more around the world because it turns out that not dying from Weeds or weed killer is an important trait for crops to have in monsanto's, not the only one.

A massive proportion of crops we eat were invented and patented by some company designed to be more reliable or more resilient than other breeds.

But here's, the kicker growing, a patented plant is legally the same thing as manufacturing any other patented product.

It's like a restaurant, making a Big Mac or a factory making a Rick and Morty body pillow.

Basically, these companies decide who can make their product and exactly how much of it they can make.


A farmer wants to grow a patent plans.

They need to sign a contract, saying they'll only grow the seeds they've purchased and they won't replant or give away the next generation of seeds it's kind of like if you're a can of Pepsi magically refilled with Pepsi after you were done drinking it, and then Pepsi was like hey what the hell you can't drink, that you have to throw that out and buy a brand new can of Pepsi, especially because you're, the only person on Earth who intentionally buys cans of Pepsi, and even though these patents are mostly held in the U.S and Europe articles, something of the thingy Accord means you can't replant patented seeds in any of these countries.

So unless you're trying to get rich growing, genetically modified beets in Eritrea you're pretty much screwed but Sam.

You might be saying if this is such a big problem for Farmers, why don't they just grow? Non-Patented plants I'm a stupid loser and the only way I can make myself feel better is by sewing descent in your comments section well, setting aside the fact that it's pretty hard to keep your Pharma float with corn that dies.

When you look at it the wrong way, there's also the worry that you might end up growing patented plants by accident, after all, Farms accidentally, cross-pollinate nearby, Farms, all the time and it's hard to know how much of that pollen has a big scary contract on it.

That is, of course, unless you're, one of the 100 of private investigators, that these seed companies hire to spy on farms and look for people to drop lawsuits on now.

This accidental patent infringement stuff is a thing that organic farmers seem to worry about a lot and some even sued Monsanto because of the possibility that it could happen, but there don't really seem to be too many cases of seed companies cracking down on unsuspecting Farmers.

There was this one guy in Canada who got sued and claimed it was an accident, but it turns out his field was 95, Monsanto canola, so I don't know about that.

One look sorry, but someone has to defend these giant corporations.

Okay, I mean someone beside their hundreds of lawyers.

Now, even though this racket might have ruined my tomato scheme, here's the Silver Lining patents don't last forever.

Unless you're Disney, in fact, some of monsanto's earliest patents like their soybeans, have already expired and opened Farmers up to sell plant and replant old Monsanto seeds without the seed cops breathing down their necks.

But that is, of course not the end of this story.

This is a really complicated topic, with a lot of far-reaching implications and as a purveyor of the internet's finest six minute joke riddled, half explainers I might not be the best person to get into the nitty-gritty for that.

I'd recommend checking out Bartow elmore's seed money, a book that you can snag for free with a subscription to audible, look I love reading in theory, but these days the only way I can finish a book is by plugging it into my ears, whether I'm driving to work, doing laundry or suffering through a long plane.

Ride audible's massive streaming library of free audiobooks has made the monotonous moments of my life, relaxing and productive plus.

If there's an audiobook, you want that's not part of their streaming catalog.

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Audible also has a collection of killer podcasts like donor 9623 and deepest dive.

Best of all hi viewers get to try audible, Premium Plus for free for 30 days, which includes unlimited access to their plus catalog and a credit to get any audiobook which you can keep forever just click.

The button on screen text Hai to 500, 500 or head to audible.com Hai to sign up for free and you'll, be helping support Hai, while you're at it.

Why Farmers Can’t Legally Replant Their Own Seeds (2024)


Why Farmers Can’t Legally Replant Their Own Seeds? ›

Farmers who choose to grow genetically modified (GM, or GMO) seed sign a contract stating that they will not save their seed to grow next year. GMO seed is protected under intellectual property laws. To save this seed to plant again the next year will violate a contract and is illegal under Intellectual Property law.

Why farmers can't legally replant their own seeds? ›

Legality. 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).

Why can't farmers replant GMO seeds? ›

It is true that patented GMO seeds are often protected by intellectual property rules, meaning farmers must pledge not to save them and replant. Monsanto says it has sued about 150 farmers who it claims broke these rules over the past 20 years.

When did farmers stop saving seeds? ›

By the 1990s, commodity crops were increasingly grown with genetically modified seeds, which were patented by the companies that created them, making it a crime for farmers to save them from one season to the next.

Why do farmers have to buy seeds every year? ›

First generation hybrids, however, do not breed true to type, meaning that the seed they set may not grow into crops that are identical to the 'parent' plants. This can result in variations in yield and quality therefore many farmers prefer to buy new hybrid seed each year to ensure consistency in their final product.

Can farmers be sued for saving seeds? ›

This is a relatively rare circ*mstance, with 145 lawsuits filed since 1997 in the U.S. This averages about 11 per year for the past 13 years. To date, only 9 cases have gone through full trial. In every one of these instances, the jury or court decided in Monsanto's favor.

Why does the government pay farmers not to plant? ›

As described to the public, it was compensation to farmers for retiring acreage to reduce fertilizer and pesticide runoff into the nation's water supply.

Why do farmers refuse to grow GMO crops? ›

2 Not only does GMO contamination affect seed purity, but it also has serious ramifications for organic and non-GMO farmers that face economic harm due to lost markets or decreased crop values. The financial burden associated with GMO contamination is significant.

What is the problem with genetically modified seeds? ›

Environmental concerns include : the risk of outcrossing, where genes from GMO foods pass into wild plants and other crops. a negative impact on insects and other species. reduction in other plant types, leading to a loss of biodiversity.

Why should we not grow genetically modified crops? ›

Where they are grown, GM crops occupy large surface areas and are linked to intensive monoculture systems that wipe out other crop and ecosystems. Growing only one kind of corn for human consumption will mean a reduction in flavors, traditional knowledge and food security.

Why are seeds not allowed in the US? ›

All seeds must be declared to customs officials upon arrival, and some may require a permit or additional documentation. Furthermore, some seeds may be prohibited altogether. For example, certain invasive plant species or endangered plant species may not be allowed to enter the country.

Why can't you save hybrid seeds? ›

Do not save seed from F1 or hybrid plants if you want to be certain that the plants grown from the seed will be the same as their parents. Plants that grow from seed saved from hybrid plants generally are less vigorous, more variable, and usually have smaller blossoms and yield less than their parents. Why?

What are the seed laws in the US? ›


An Act to regulate interstate and foreign commerce in seeds; to require labeling and to prevent misrepresentation of seeds in interstate commerce; to require certain standards with respect to certain imported seeds; and for other purposes.

What states is seed sharing illegal in? ›

Seed Sharing Is Illegal in Some States

You may be surprised to learn that seed sharing is illegal in many U.S. states, such as Pennsylvania, Maryland, Minnesota, and Nebraska. If seed sharing isn't illegal in your state, there is a possibility that you are required by law to have a permit to share seeds.

Why can't you save f1 seeds? ›

Seeds saved from F1 hybrid plants will not produce plants that are true to the parent type. F1 hybrid seed is expensive as it has to be recreated by crossing the parent inbred lines again. Self pollination of the parent inbred lines leads to poor quality plants called 'selfs'.

Is it cheaper to buy seeds or plants? ›

So, what's the catch? Well, starter plants are certainly more expensive than a packet of seeds. Sometimes one single starter plant can cost the same as a package of 200 seeds of the same plant. So, while starter plants may save you a lot of time, seeds will save you a little cash.

Why can't you save F1 seeds? ›

Seeds saved from F1 hybrid plants will not produce plants that are true to the parent type. F1 hybrid seed is expensive as it has to be recreated by crossing the parent inbred lines again. Self pollination of the parent inbred lines leads to poor quality plants called 'selfs'.

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