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Pandemic Sparks Call for End to Big Ag’s Control of Seeds and Food System

Campaigners at Open Source Seeds, Campaign for Seed Sovereignty and other groups argue that "something as universal as food crops should belong to everyone, not a small group of agrochemical companies."

A growing number of people around the world are calling for the public ownership of seeds, which they say is essential for a more democratic and ecologically sound food system, as the coronavirus-driven spike in empty supermarket shelves and the continued loss of biodiversity this year sparked a rise in the popularity of saving and swapping seeds and shed more light on the negative consequences of allowing a handful of agrochemical corporations to dominate the global seed trade.

In the U.K., the seed saving movement had been “quietly growing” for awhile, but “from March onwards, when the pandemic hit the U.K., seed producers and seed banks across the country were overwhelmed with demand,” with multiple organizations experiencing a “sharp surge in orders, 600% in some cases,” Alexandra Genova reported in The Guardian.

“People crave connection,” David Price, managing director of the Seed Cooperative, told The Guardian. “They want connection with other people and connection with the planet, and growing and saving seed is a way of getting both.”