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Saturday, December 7 • 8:00am - 8:50am
Utility Patents and Certified Organic Seeds

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In a recent New York Times feature article entitled: Save Our Food. Free the Seed. Dan Barber exclaimed, “The knockout punch for farmer-controlled seed was the utility patent.” The Organic Seed Alliance Website states: “Over the last four decades, the seed industry has consolidated, and much of our commercial seed is now owned and managed in the hands of a few transnational firms. Intellectual property practices (e.g., utility patents on seed) stand out as a major cause.” What most organic farmers and gardeners have yet to realize is that more and more certified organic seeds being offered for sale in the U.S. now carry utility patents. Complete and accurate information about which varieties being patented is difficult to find. The presentation will include a short history of plant patenting including the difference between The Plant Variety Protection Act passed in 1970 and the newer, more restrictive Utility Patents which prohibit for the first time growers from actually saving any of their own seeds. The presentation will include a discussion about individual and regional strategies growers can use to assure long-term access to varieties with superior traits along with the regional and cultural adaptation that comes only from local seed saving.


Bill McDorman

Executive Director, Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, Inc.
Bill McDorman is a seed saver, writer, and educator based in Cornville, Arizona. He is a co-founder of The Down Home Project, Garden City Seeds, Seeds Trust, High Altitude Gardens, the Sawtooth Botanical Gardens, Seed School and the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance. He is the author of... Read More →


Judy Owsowitz

Owner, Terrapin Farms
MOA Board Member

Saturday December 7, 2019 8:00am - 8:50am MST
Summit Room Left