Who Owns the Fruits of the Earth
Why do we get certain fruits on the table and not others? An extraordinary field survey that explains how the whole food chain works.
When we bite into a piece of fruit or sip a glass of wine, we don't ask ourselves where it comes from. But behind a single apple lies a long and complex process that involves many players and, above all, many interests. Who controls, for example, the grape chain, and with what consequences? The first and most dramatic one is that over the last century, 75% of edible plants and fruits have been lost to aesthetically perfect and patented varieties. We eat very few plant species and very few varieties, all the same as each other. The apple we usually buy in the supermarket is the result of genetic selection that has made it perfect in size, colour and taste. But that same apple has driven other varieties off the market, dramatically reducing agrobiodiversity. Not only that. What is less intuitive is that the apparently perfect fruit is the exclusive property of a handful of genetic industries that, in recent years, have not only made a profit, but have come to control the entire production chain! And moreover: what has become of the 75% of plants that were once cultivated and have now been replaced by super productive and uniform varieties? To find out, Fabio Ciconte travels to the remote Svalbard Islands, in the Arctic Circle, inside the global seed repository where seeds from every corner of the globe are kept in safety, revealing the backstory of a public system - that of biodiversity conservation - that is treading water on all sides. An extraordinarily interesting account that shows, above all, how the overall production of what we eat has been radically transformed, making farming a real franchise.