Welcome to the Seeds of Resistance website.
This is both a website to host information about my book, and a place to check out reporting I and others are doing on the interplay between seeds, climate change, and corporate influence over our agriculture. I’ll be blogging regularly and/or posting stories published elsewhere by authors or institutions covering these issues.
About the book: SEEDS OF RESISTANCE is an expose of the high-stakes battle underway for control of the world’s seeds as climate volatility threatens the security of our food supply. Three-quarters of the seed varieties on earth in 1900 are now extinct. I investigate what it means that more than half of the commercial seeds which remain are owned by three agri-chemical companies. And I tell colorful and surprising stories from the global movement that is defying the companies, and offering alternatives capable of surviving the accelerating climatic changes. (For more on the book, see About).
Recent Blog Posts
Droughts without borders
I landed in France in the second week of August for a house swap working vacation. I escaped, or so I thought, to the rolling fields of the Occitaine and the Aquitane in the southwest, where I stayed in a 400 year old house in the medieval town of Turenne. And while many things are very different–notably the language (which I recall bumpily from having lived in Paris thirty+ years ago), the absence of Donald Trump, the six hundred year old chateau perched at the top of the hill, and the abundance of duck–le canard–in every conceivable form, there is also the familiar, as I learned recently driving through the neighboring province of Haut-Vienne. Namely, the drought that has devastated crops across California has its corollary here in France. We drove past fields full of sunflowers, lilting, lamely, in the heat. Here is the photo that says it all …Read More.
Most Recent Publication
“Health trumps politics,” said Iowa State Senator David Johnson before taking the stage at a raucous rally in Des Moines last winter to support strengthening the state’s water quality. In the marble rotunda of the state capitol, he rose to denounce the nitrogen and phosphates that have been flowing in ever-increasing quantities into Iowa’s public water supplies — and was cheered by the small crowd of family farmers, concerned mothers, and his new political allies, the legislature’s drastically outnumbered Democrats. Johnson had been one of the longest-serving Republicans in Iowa until he left the party to become an independent in 2016 after defying it repeatedly on one of the most divisive issues in Iowa — the integrity of the state’s water. Iowa’s nitrogen load has been accelerating despite more than $100 million spent by the federal and state governments to rein it in. Starting in 1999, the concentration …Read More.
I went to Iowa with Casey Beck to document how nitrogen and other pollutants flowing off industrial farms impacts downstream drinking water for hundreds of thousands of Iowans, and millions who live along the banks of the Mississippi River. We discovered some unlikely alliances emerging between right and left. (A print version of this story appeared in Yale 360).
Re-coupling the Seed with the Environment Around It: Journalist Mark Schapiro on the Fight to Save Our Food Supply Original SourceRe-coupling the Farm and the Environment Around It: Journalist Mark Schapiro on the fight to save our food supply
A seed is never just a seed, writes Mark Schapiro in his new book, Seeds of Resistance (Hot Books, September 2018). “Like all environmental stories, start with a seed and you quickly end up in the realms of money and power—who has it, and who’s struggling to gain or regain it.” As an environmental journalist, Schapiro has long grappled with our world’s systems of power and economics. His most recent books, Carbon Shock and The End of Stationarity, dive into the repercussions of climate change on global economic systems. Before that, he peeled back the layers of the chemical industry in Exposedand Circle of Poison. But throughout his career, Schapiro never strayed far from farmers and the seeds on which they depend. In Seeds of Resistance, he recalls a magazine assignment from the early 1980s that brought him from his home base on the Pacific coast to the American heartland. He …Read More.
About the Book: I’ve watched and reported as two forces began to converge, with huge implications for the stability and long-term security of our food supply. The accelerating pace of climate change has been heightening volatility and challenging long-established patterns of agriculture; and, occurring practically in parallel, there’s been an accelerating pace of corporate consolidations that are tightening control over the breeding and marketing of seeds. The book began with an investigation into the implications of agri-chemical dominance of seeds–more than half of all commercially-traded seeds have fallen under the control of three agri-chemical companies–-and evolved into an exploration of bio-diversity as the key quality necessary for resilience to the whipsawing changes. There is another concurrent force, too–the initiatives by farmers, scientists, and activists to assert autonomy over their seeds. I dive into the expanding movement that is defying the trends toward consolidation, and search for the seeds that offer our …Read More.