Championing seeds as one of our planet’s most precious and vulnerable resources, Castaldo delivers a sobering global status report—and a call to action.
Citing our food’s precipitous decline in genetic biodiversity, Castaldo introduces readers to the pioneering plant scientists Gregor Mendel, Luther Burbank, and Nikolai Vavilov. Their respective work (in genetics, hybridization, and the collection and preservation of threatened seed varieties) contrasts starkly with the modern practice of genetically engineering and patenting seed for profit by corporate monoliths. Castaldo vividly sketches Vavilov, whose visionary global conservation expeditions yielded the world’s first seed bank. Falsely implicated and imprisoned by Stalin’s regime, Vavilov died of starvation in a prison camp. Indeed, seeds are both casualties and spoils of war. The Nazis, the Taliban, and other aggressors have stolen or destroyed seed stores, while brave scientists have transported and hidden these critical resources. Blending clear exposition with urgent polemic, Castaldo highlights the important distinction between hybridization and genetic modification of seed, the perils of monoculture, and the David-and-Goliath battles of family farmers vs. Monsanto. She profiles the work of Dr. Vandana Shiva and others—worldwide advocates for farmers’ rights to reclaim, sow, and save genetically clean seeds. Concluding chapters explore heirlooms, the farm-to-table food movement, and exhilarating efforts—both formal and grass-roots—to save and safeguard our remaining, regionally adapted seed.
Well-crafted and inspiring. (call to action, resources, seed libraries, glossary, author’s note, sources, timeline, index) (Nonfiction. 12-15)