I enjoyed your article. I for one am all for free enterprise. Government should not be the one to set the price for technology in a free marketplace. The problem is this issue is not that simple. Most ag technology has been developed with tremendous aid from the land grant college system.
We, in the best interest of commercial agriculture as we know it, had better keep some alternatives. The best way for this to be is to rebuild our seed breeding programs at our ag schools. Even if the varieties are never commercially produced, their availability will keep an affordable lid on seed prices, technology or not, and thus be a viable return on research dollars.
Thanks for writing on Wes Shoemeyer's attempt to pass a saved seed bill, and on Marcy Kaptur's current effort.
Seed companies in power no longer need improve the yield of their products to capture market share. Once the patented gene is placed in a seed it is their property no matter how many generations pass, and anyone wishing to improve the productivity of a hybrid must first pay tribute in the form of royalties.
Now, the cutting edge research that used to be done to unlock higher yields is focused on identifying patentable genes. The crop I harvest is mine, but if I plant it and it grows, it's Monsanto's.
Back when Wes had his bill before committee in Jefferson City (Mo.), I and many other farmers went there to testify in favor of it. It was interesting to be in the room where the vast majority present favored the bill, but two were opposed to it: Monsanto and Farm Bureau. The Missouri Seed Improvement Assn. took a neutral stance.
Richard R. Oswald