Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds

By Claire Hope Cummings | Go to book overview

EIGHT

Ripe for Change

Now, in the midst of so much unnecessary
human and ecological destruction, we are
facing the necessity of a new start in agriculture.

WENDELL BERRY


Heritage Farm, Decorah, Iowa

In midsummer, the softly undulating hills of northeastern Iowa are lush with corn and soybeans. The Amish farms are immaculate. The town of Decorah is also orderly, a legacy of the Norwegian immigrants who began farming here in the mid-nineteenth century. It has a real Main Street and fanciful Victorian houses surrounded by tall trees and well-kept lawns. Just north of town is Heritage Farm, the home of Seed Savers Exchange (SSE). Getting there means driving through mile after mile of monotonous commodity crops, but once the road leaves the main highway, another landscape appears. The road dips down into a riparian forest and crosses a creek edged by limestone cliffs and century-old white pine trees. The warm air suddenly turns cool, and the contrast between the planted and native riparian areas is startling. It signals more changes to come, just over the horizon.

When you turn onto the dirt drive leading into Heritage Farm, suddenly a circus of color appears. The summer gardens are blazing with orange calendulas, golden sunflowers, redjewel-colored zinnias, white and purple coreopsis, tall spires of

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Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • A Note on the Terminology ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xv
  • The Rise of the Techno-Elites 1
  • One - Trade Secrets 3
  • Two - Trespass 23
  • Three - Political Science 45
  • Four - The Ownership Society 65
  • The Turning Points 85
  • Five - Who Owns Rice? 87
  • Six - The Botany of Scarcity 106
  • Seven - The Botany of Abundance 128
  • A Green Wealth 145
  • Eight - Ripe for Change 147
  • Nine - A Conversation with Corn 163
  • Ten - The Down-Turned Hand 179
  • A Cabinet of Seeds Displayed 193
  • Epilogue - The Seeded Earth 195
  • Acknowledgments 206
  • Sources and Resources 209
  • Index 219
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