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Seedtime: On the History, Husbandry,…

Seedtime: On the History, Husbandry, Politics and Promise of Seeds

by Scott Chaskey

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As the title suggests, this book is a complete study on seeds: their history and the science behind them, how humans have depended on and interacted with them, how they are in the middle of political debates, but most of all how they "hold promise" for all future life.

Told in a hopeful and poetic manner author, Scott Chaskey uses storytelling inter-weaved with factual evidence
to tell the incredible story of seeds on Earth. I enjoyed the first several chapters on the history of seeds and their interactions with humans the most. Some of the middle chapters, that talked more of politics and raw data were a little tedious to me, but still worth being told.

Seedtime was provided for free as an Advanced Reading Copy in return for an honest review. ( )
  Mishker | Jan 19, 2014 |
Scott Chaskey is clearly a very passionate being. His love of the earth is not simply educated but poetic. His writing is calm, smooth and even. He doesn’t get upset at, for example, soulless agribusiness. He seems to think merely reporting its horrors will suffice. So Seedtime is quite an unusual read.
There is of course the world of seeds at its most basic, from orchid seed capsules, containing nearly four million seeds, to the Seychelles nut, whose single seeds weigh up to 45 pounds. But there are also the implications from shrinking biodiversity. North of 90% of cultivated plant varieties have disappeared since 1903 as seed banks, government sponsored or not, have disappeared and agribusiness has dictated what seeds may be sown. The most common example is Roundup, a herbicide so vile it kills the plants it was meant to protect. So its makers had to devise new plant strains capable of withstanding its Roundup, and farmers are not permitted to reseed. They must buy fresh every year, thus destroying the age-old cycle of farming - in order to use Roundup. There is something very wrong with this picture. 99
Like globalization homogenizing stores, fast food and consumer products, so agribusiness has led us through a catastrophic decline in planted varieties as farmers worldwide plant the same seeds and abandon local diversity. Chapter 7 is essentially a condemnation of Monsanto, which “owns” the farmer (its term), who must agree to a long list of demands just to purchase seed. Once a customer, the farmer is captive forever. The company employs a battalion of investigators and an eight digit budget to sue farmers who either try to replant or whose crops are affected by nearby Monsanto plants. It’s the stuff of Orwell, but sadly, it is now the way of the world, backed by government and the courts.
Chaskey bemoans the absurdity of the US patent system awarding a patent to a Texas company for basmati rice, which of course was neither novel nor innovative, and Lord knows, there was “prior art”. It turns the age old practice of farmers exchanging seeds into a crime, he says.
On a positive note, there are efforts to work around these nightmares, such as seed libraries. They work the same as book libraries, in that anyone can check out seeds, as long as they plant more than they need so they can produce seeds to return to the library.
I wish there were a lot more such positive efforts, but the overwhelming, government backed power of agribusiness makes it difficult for little weeds to poke their heads out of the earth. Fortunately, the Scott Chaskeys of the world can set it out in writing. Perhaps the sunlight will promote blossoms. ( )
  DavidWineberg | Oct 10, 2013 |
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Describes the history and mythology of seeds and the threat that global corporations which seek to control seeds through GMOs represent to biodiversity and traditional farming.

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