Feeding a large population like China is not easy. Being a small farmer and being competitive at the same time is not easy. You just do not have enough money to buy the best equipment and tools. Buying the best genetic strains of your crop is not cheap.
This is where counterfeiters make there money. Some in China claim these counterfeits are life savers, companies claim it is illegal and hurting the genetic code and taking away money from the company that made that GMO seed designs possible.
Turn the corner down a narrow alley, and you find a shop with a single corn stalk growing in a pot out front. When the shop is open, a farmer can walk in and make an “under the table” deal to buy 335 or another hybrid for a quarter to a third of the price, says a worker affiliated with the local Pioneer store. The seeds were likely bred from Pioneer parent stock.
The popularity of Pioneer’s 335 inspired imitators. It’s widely repeated that 20 percent of the seed corn sold in China comes from Pioneer — half of it is sold by the Iowa company, and half of it is counterfeit.
Niebur said it’s hard to quantify the impact of counterfeiting. Yet he acknowledges that counterfeit 335 seeds are sold “probably at a level similar to ours.”
In general, “farmers don’t think it’s stealing,” Zhao Ruxue, a Pioneer seed dealer in Shandong province, said through an interpreter. But he sees progress. Mindsets are beginning to change, and local government officials are starting to crack down.
He estimated that 50 percent to 60 percent of the seeds on the market were counterfeit three to five years ago. He believes that’s dropped to 20 percent.
At the same time, the quality of the counterfeit seed is improving. Pioneer officials see lots of variability, however, and farmers suffer when the counterfeit seeds fail to germinate or produce low yields.
Well at least they do not have to deal with counterfeit seeds that don’t even germinate.
While over here in the US you don’t need those seeds to be competitive as shown by the huge growth in local organic farming, in China you do. There is really no organic market over there. In Oregon, where I live and where our companies is located, the local movement is very large. Well it is like that on the whole west coast.
But no one in China cares about that. They need the hybrid and GMO seeds. The yield is much higher. Without this seed, countries like China and India would not have been able to maintain their level of population. So what is a small farmer to do? These are tough questions.
What do you think? Should small farmers be allowed to use these seeds without criminal charges? Should they be allowed to use them if food prices rise to much and the government is encouraging everyone to grow food? Leave a comment below.
There are sometimes moral questions when it comes to counterfeits. Check out our post here about if governments should use seized counterfeit clothes during national emergencies.