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Part of the Biophysical Constraints panel.

Q&A with the full panel is available at




To put it simply, seeds are the essence of life. Without their varied yields, the earth would have no agriculture, no livestock, no food systems, no ecological stability. In all shapes, sizes, and distributions, seeds are genetic powerhouses that store life's codes; they are as essential a resource as the water and soil at nourish them. Nonetheless, mounting evidence demonstrates steady erosion of the seed biodiversity necessary for viable food systems. Some seed varieties have been unable to adapt as habitats change or shrink, non- commercial seed-saving techniques have disappeared along with community elders, and a relatively small number of hybrid and transgenic commodity crop varieties – none of which yield useful seeds – dominate global agriculture while the botanical populations of historic landraces and their wild cousins decline. Political dangers abound as well; war and cial rest have decimated seed banks in Afghanistan, for example, and it is feared that some unique local varieties from other locations may have been permanently lost.




Burlington, Vermont

2014-section1-Breen [abstract].pdf (324 kB)
extended abstract

2014-section1-Breen [video].mp4 (53450 kB)
video of presentation

Saving Seeds: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Native American Seed Savers, and Problems of Property