hybrid vs. open pollinated

Hybrid seeds

Hybrid seeds are the first generation offsprings of two distant and distinct parental lines of the same species. Seeds taken from a hybrid may either be sterile or more commonly fail to breed true, not incorporating and expressing the desired traits of the parent.

The development of hybrid seed enabled the beginning of the commercial seed market. Farmers were persuaded to buy new hybrid seed each season, replacing the traditional practice of farm-saved seed, due to the “hybrid vigour” which can improve yields.

Hybrid seed is also known as “high response” seed. These seeds require fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides and lots of water to achieve their high yields.

I'm going to need wonder fertizer, wonder irrigation, wonder herbicides. Wonder where i'll get the money?Hybrids have been bred with an emphasis on yield at the expense of hardiness and resistance. Breeders will sacrifice disease resistance where pesticides are available.

Reliance on these seeds enforces the use of chemical inputs. Hybrid seeds and their required fertilisers, pesticides and irrigation systems have trapped many of the worldÂ’s poorest farmers into a cycle of debt. In India hundreds of farmers have committed suicide due to debt.

The substitution of chemical fertilisers for organic methods of returning nutrients to the soil, such as composting, crop rotation and manure creates lifeless dusty soils prone to soil erosion. An estimated 24 billion tonnes of soil are eroded from the world’s agricultural land each year. Dust levels in the lower atmosphere have tripled in the last 60 years.

Modern hybrid seeds require large amounts of water often necessitating the construction of irrigation systems and dams. The experience in poor countries is that dams serve the rich minority and disrupt the natural watersheds essential to poorer farmers. To build these dams millions of people have been forcibly moved from their homes and fertile soils in river valleys have been flooded.

Open pollinated seeds

Open-pollinated varieties are the traditional varieties which have been grown and selected for their desirable traits for millennia. They grow well without high inputs because they have been selected under organic conditions.

These varieties have better flavour, are hardier and have more flexibility than hybrid varieties. Breeders cannot manipulate complex characteristics such as flavour as easily as they can size and shape.

These seeds are dynamic, that is they mutate and adapt to the local ecosystem, as opposed to modern hybrids, which are static.

Commercial breeders lack the incentive to produce new open pollinated varieties from which farmers could save seed and replant..

Thanks to the plasterers in manchester for the studio space @ the plastering company