Why Are GM Seeds Patented?

WHY ARE GM SEEDS PATENTED?

Seed has been patented in the United States since the 1930s. The ability of universities, seed companies and individuals to patent their developments has spurred improved products that have significantly increased agricultural productivity. Farmers are very familiar with their choices of whether or not to buy patented seeds.

  • GMOs give farmers, regardless of the size of their operations, the potential to increase productivity and profitability by planting seeds with specialized value-added traits and resistance to insects, viruses and disease. GMOs have not been proven to be harmful, is effective and widely used by more than 16 million farmers around the world. Large and small scale farmers across the world recognize the value of GM crops and the graph below shows the global area of GM crop adoption.

ARE FARMERS & RANCHERS FORCED TO USE GM SEEDS OR CAN THEY CHOOSE SEEDS THAT WORK THE BEST FOR THEM?

Farmers are free to choose the seeds they use to grow their crops based on their specific soil type, the local growing environment, market demand and their personal preferences. They can purchase non-GM conventional seeds, GM seeds or organic seeds. Many farmers choose to use GM seeds to reduce crop damage from weeds, diseases and insects, as well as adverse weather conditions such as drought. Advancements in breeding and seed technologies have allowed many farmers to maintain or improve yield while using less fertilizer, pesticides and water. In other cases, farmers have used GM seeds to save a crop, such as Hawaiian papaya that was threatened by disease.

Through their own research and by working with certified seed advisors, university extension specialists and other professional partners, farmers are in an excellent position to select the right type of seed and the proper mix of inputs to best manage their farm for both profit and environmental stewardship.

USFRA supports diversity, including making non-GM seeds available based on market demand. An important part of maintaining crop diversity is ensuring that practices are in place to reduce cross-contamination of different types of crops and seeds.