Welcome to Seeds of Resistance
Greetings! Thanks for coming to this site. I’m going to be using this space to write and report on the health of our food system—starting with the ground zero ingredient, seeds. Everything begins with that kernel of kinetic energy planted into the ground. Add water, sun, minerals and, voila, food! Sounds simple. But the trail from the seed leads pretty quickly into big questions all the way up the food chain: Where the seed is planted, who grows it, how its grown and, of course, who owns the food on the other end? I’ll be following those threads with reporting and blogging, and also linking to others’ work in these arenas.
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
GMOs Finally Get a Label….Sort Of
Did you happen to notice that there are now federally-mandated rules for labelling GMOs? If you missed the news, you wouldn’t be alone. It slipped in under the public radar on December 20, when the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced them on the Friday just before Christmas. The new label regulations have ambiguities and loopholes that you could drive a two-ton corn-hauling truck through. Let’s take a quick dive into what the labels are, what they mean, and the man behind them—Sonny Perdue, the Trump-appointed head of the USDA and former Governor of Georgia (2003-2011). Before shepherding the labels, he made a small fortune from businesses enmeshed in the multi-billion dollar GMO economy. The Who. Sonny Perdue, according to financial disclosure forms filed with the Senate Agriculture Committee, received hundreds of thousands of dollars from agri-businesses involved in the transport and marketing of GMOs over at least a decade he spent …Read More.
Most Recent Publication
In the Heart of the Corn Belt, An Uphill Battle for Clean Water Original SourceRunoff from farms and feedlots has badly polluted Iowa’s waterways, more than half of which do not meet federal quality standards. Now, an unlikely coalition is calling for stricter controls to clean up the drinking water sources for millions of the state’s residents.
“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).
Green Apple Books, San Francisco–Reading1231 9th Avenue (x Lincoln Blvd), San Francisco, CA
Come on by Thursday night to the great Green Apple Bookstore in San Francisco! I’ll be talking about Seeds of Resistance, and the fight for control over the world’s seeds as climate volatility accelerates. For more info and details, see: https://seedsofresistance.net › green-apple-books-san-francisco-reading
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.