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Free Liberal: Coordinating towards higher values

Free Liberal

Coordinating towards higher values

A Seed of Sterile Thought

by Paul Jacob

Sometimes it's the people with the best intentions who spread the wildest rumors. There's a movement gaining strength around the world, especially in Europe and Africa, to ban forever genetically engineered foods. For at least five years I've been reading and hearing complaints about something called "terminator seeds," and much of what I've read is ludicrous.

In most modern farms, farmers buy seeds every year. In earlier times, and more primitive places, farmers harvest seeds from their fruits and vegetables, to plant next season. Now, some genetically modified foods are also being engineered to produce sterile seeds in the produce. So farmers using those seeds could not harvest the seeds as a recycling effort.

Now, the reason most farmers in the first world don't do harvest seeds any more is that the better hybrids decay over time, thus the seeds they'd harvest wouldn't produce as well as newly produced and bought seeds. Besides, it's something of a hassle to do that extra work. For many farmers, cultivating strains and seeds is "somebody else's job." And with this division of labor comes efficiencies.

But the terminator seeds that some major companies want to sell have caused quite an uproar. You hear about poor, illiterate farmers not being able to handle the alleged "pressure" to buy the new seeds.

I don't know about you, but I raise my eyebrow when people assume that farmers are stupid.

But food purist activists are another matter! In nearly every discussion of terminator seeds I've come across recently, there's this section devoted to the spectre of terminator seeds spreading throughout the farm stock, making other strains sterile. Listen: sterile seeds can't spread their sterility.

Talk about a sterile argument!

Common Sense is published by Americans for Limited Government. Their website can be visited at

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