I was asked about the seed but find myself dreaming of soil.
Seeds are many things marvelous. Most of the seeds that yield food and flavors, medicine, and flowers have been cultivated for generations by millions of people. As a material form of collective knowledge, seeds constitute one of the longest-running open-source systems in history. Agricultural diversity is not simply spontaneous but is the product of centuries of attentive cultivation and unregulated exchange. Designed to travel, the seed is a powerfully compact and mobile medium and for this reason is easily fetishized for exchange on the market. The privatization of the seed in the form of intellectual property is legalized theft of the commons. In this way, it is alienated from the collective conditions of its production.
Genetically modified seed, the consummate commodity form, is a carrier of the entire corporatized system of industrial agriculture. The complete package comprises the patented seed, the synthetic fertilizer, and the patented herbicide that the seed has been designed to tolerate, all marketed by the same company. The knowledge condensed in seeds is abducted from common hands and obscured in the laboratories and law offices of the corporation. Our surrender of knowledge leaves us in debt to the industry; debt is a way to control people…
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