Agriculture Workshop Comment Number: AGW-13528

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Comment Number: AGW-13528

From: Robert Patt-Corner
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2009 8:14 PM
To: ATR-Agricultural Workshops
Subject: Food Safety and Seed Diversity Concerns

Dear Ms. or Sir:

I am a public-health scientist by training, and computer scientist by
trade.  For years I've considered food and food safety issues,
particularly issues of food quality, real food, and seed supply and
biodiversity issues. I'm very concerned about the consolidation of power
in the agricultural and food processing sectors, for a number of
important reasons:

Our food supply is not safe. My epidemiological training leads me to
conclude that a major outbreak of a food-borne illness can be expected
on a regular basis, as it has been in past, due to consolidation of the
industry, narrowing of diversity and poor quality controls.

Food prices, the available genetic stock and food quality are set by
just a few companies. With so little competition the likelihood of
escalating food costs and increasing consolidation also seem likely.

Food from the large grocery stores is of poor quality, albeit of good
visual appearance.  The food I get at local farmers' markets is always
tastier, but expensive and not reliably available. I'd like to be able
to get fresh, local food at my supermarket, but there doesn't seem to be
a way for the small farmers to get their products into these big
chains.  Again, monopolies are the problem.

The greatest problem I want you to consider is the narrowing of
biodiversity in our seed stock and the patenting of seeds.  Through a
combination of reducing varieties, driving farmers to use patented
varieties and attempts to prevent seed banking and the natural cycle of
seed renewal, the large players in the market are setting the scene for
both captive markets and a potentially catastrophic failure of seed and
consequent famine.

Thank you for the opportunity to express my concern on this matter. I
look forward to following this investigation in the coming year.

Robert Patt-Corner
MHS, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health

Updated April 7, 2016

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