Update: This comment period closed on June 15, 2022.
Read OSA’s full comments here.
Are you a seed grower or company with firsthand experience of problematic conduct in the seed industry that makes it difficult for you to compete? Do current intellectual property rights (IPR) on seed impact your access to germplasm for breeding, research, or commercial purposes? Are you aware of questionable patents on seeds?
These and other questions are part of an ongoing USDA inquiry that is inviting public input through June 15, 2022. In particular, the USDA is examining competition concerns in the seed industry as they relate to IPR, including potential impacts IPR has on public plant breeders, tribal seed stewards, and society’s ability to respond to climate change. This inquiry stems from a July 9, 2021, Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.
OSA is putting together comments to support the USDA’s inquiry and we strongly encourage YOU to submit comments as well. The USDA is looking for firsthand experiences and examples of problems with IPR on seed, seed industry consolidation, and related matters, such as resources growers need to navigate IPR issues in the marketplace.
Check out the USDA’s inquiry to review the full set of questions to guide your comments. We recognize the list of questions is quite lengthy. View them as prompts and focus on sharing your experience as it relates to market concentration and IPR on seed.
Some points that OSA will be making include:
- The seed industry is one of the most consolidated sectors in agriculture: Four companies, all with roots in the agrochemical industry, now control over 60 percent of the global commercial market. This level of concentrated market power increases prices, limits choice in the marketplace, squeezes out competitors, and makes our seed supply – and thus food supply – less secure.
- Utility patents are the wrong tool for protecting developments in seed. Unlike other agricultural inputs, seed is a natural resource that requires careful management to sustain modern food systems and those of future generations. Seeds do not fit the utility patent model because they produce food—a universally recognized human right, they replicate when planted in the ground, and have evolved over thousands of years.
- Owners of utility patents have far-reaching control over access and use of their products, including seeds and genetic traits. Patents remove valuable plant genetics from the pool of seed that breeders and growers rely on for improving crops, feeding their communities, and exercising independence in the seed system.
- Action must be taken to address the concentrated ownership of seed afforded by patents and other restrictive forms of IPR. Action must also be taken to revamp antitrust laws and enforcement to break up “Big Seed” and ensure a competitive marketplace for independent seed companies and growers to thrive.
Please contact us if you have information to share in response to this USDA inquiry. We are happy to keep comments anonymous. Comments closed on June 15, 2022.