Classroom Resources: Closed-Source Crops

Closed-Source Crops
By Paul Salopek

Summer 2011 / Vol. 12 No. 2

Read the article

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some practical reasons why crop biodiversity is important? What are some of the potential consequences of the loss of crop biodiversity, on both large and small scales?
  2. Watch the animation of the shifting orbits graphic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBBXLZWyXBQ). How has the landscape of seed companies changed? What are some consequences of these changes?
  3. Explore the article’s key question: who owns a seed? What are some of the pros and cons associated with the research limitations and intellectual property restrictions that are currently employed by large corporations? How do these restrictions impact basic research on new transgenic crop varieties?
  4. What are some of the tradeoffs of modifying crops to increase their yield? How might climate change affect the growing seed monopoly explored in this article?
  5. What are some of the potential challenges to relying on seed banks as a means of conserving crop diversity? What are potential factors that might lead to a resurgence of local, decentralized, and biodiverse seed husbandry?

Websites for Further Information

Crop Diversity and Genetically Modified Crops in the News

Key Concepts

  • Crop biodiversity
  • Genetically modified plants
  • Food security
  • Seed vault
  • Industrial agriculture
  • Patented organisms
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