Dehradun December 1, 2017 Crop varieties have been selected and reproduced over thousands of years by farmers, creating great diversity. India, for example, used to have 200,000 varieties of rice. Seeds were kept each year for replanting and exchanging in what was a free or low-cost system for many farmers.
After the end of World War II, with the sudden availability of nitrate fertilisers used in munitions and pesticides developed for protecting soldiers from lice and mosquitoes, corporations saw great opportunities in agriculture. New crop varieties were developed that responded well to nitrate fertilisers and were more susceptible to pests and diseases.
These new varieties were often hybrids that either failed to germinate in the next generation or reverted to one of their parents, meaning they have to be purchased each year. Some, however, do reproduce well, so plant breeders rights legislation, under various names, was introduced to legally prevent seed saving of those patented varieties.
Consequently, huge numbers of crop varieties have been lost as control over genetic resources is transferred from farmers to corporations.