Why Seeds of Resistance?

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 best and healthiest options for resisting the onrushing changes.

And I discovered that when you start unpacking seeds, there are fantastic stories to be told — from the fields of Syria, where what turn out to be some of the world’s most valuable seeds have been saved from the brutal civil war by heroic teams spiriting them across the frontier,  to native American communities that have been cultivating crops in extreme conditions for centuries, to the financial markets that have turned seeds into one of the world’s hottest commodities. I wanted to lift the lid on the struggle over the ground-zero ingredient of our food as the atmosphere shifts above our heads and the earth shifts beneath our feet. The result is Seeds of Resistance.

About Mark Schapiro:

I’ve been following threats to the environment and to human health for more than three decades now. I first discovered as a young journalist that by following threads of evidence of environmental harm you can get pretty quickly to the larger forces of power and resources in a society. Seeds are a potent example, as are other environmental themes I’ve pursued over the past decade or so.

My previous books include CARBON SHOCK: A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front-Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy, an investigation into the hidden costs and consequences of climate change; and EXPOSED: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power, an investigation into the public health and economic consequences of America’s retreat from regulating toxic chemicals.  My work is also published in numerous magazines, including Harpers, Yale 360, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Pacific Standard, and Newsweek; and appears in video on the PBS newsmagazine show FRONTLINE/World and KQED in the SF Bay Area, and on the public radio show Marketplace, Fresh Air and elsewhere. I was formerly Senior Correspondent at the Center for Investigative Reporting, and am currently a Lecturer at  the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. I’ve received several awards, including a Columbia-DuPont, Sigma Delta Chi from the Society of Professional Journalists, and a Kurt Schork Award for International Reporting.