Reviews

What readers are saying about Seed Keepers of Crescentville:

“This book is far from fanciful. It depicts real technologies–and the real resistance of increasingly pissed-off people around the world”
author Bill McKibben

“An ingenious combination of scientific foresight coupled with a mesmerizing storyline. Jeanne Sable’s “Seed Keepers of Crescentville” could have the same impact on the biotech industry as Rachel Carson’s novel “Silent Spring” had on the pesticide industry. “Seed Keepers of Crescentville” is an instant thought inspiring classic.”
Craig Minowa, Environmental Scientist formerly with the Organic Consumers Association

“Jeanne Sable’s book is a must-read. Set in the near future, it is a gripping science fiction (or not so fictional) tale that deals with an important issue of our time – the risks of run-away genetic engineering. The story comes to life with down-to-earth characters in a small town setting. I couldn’t put it down. Sable’s writing and insights remind me of Barbara Kingsolver’s work.”
Madge Strong, professional land use and environmental consultant, area coordinator for the GMO-free Mendocino County initiative.

 

Novel weaves together human interest and agricultural integrity

By STEVE SHERMAN

Country meets corporate in Jeanne Prevett Sable’s novel “Seed Keepers of Cres­centville,” her shuddering story of corporate marketeers bent on swapping DNA for dough-re-me.

Sable writes cool, calm in­terweaving scenes of rural life growing increasingly entangled with “pharm” experiments. Then she brings us to a rousing climax in her story of secret plant gene modification operations in an un­suspecting small Vermont town.

If private biotech companies conjure up genetically modified organisms, do they own corn, beans, rice and whatever other foods billions of people eat? Should designer seeds be genet­ically enhanced to not produce seeds for next year? Must con­sumers buy patented corn be­cause unpatented seeds no longer exist?

After Consumma Corporation moves into rural New England, and proves to be the hardest nut to crack for its plant products, Herb Lundsted, slick marketing agent, is sent to little Cres-centville to break the back of re­gional resistance to genetically modified organisms. He maneu­vers to eliminate competition from seed-saving consumers.
One way to eliminate this competition is to train members of congress to introduce legisla­tion allowing patented biotech seeds to be protected by federal law. Now each patented seed packet carries a WARNING: “It is illegal to plant, sell, use or trade any seed, flower, root, or plant part produced by this prod­uct for the purpose of propaga­tion.” Violations “will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law un­der FEADSUS regulations.”
What is FEADSUS? Lundsted explains to Crescentville citizens — “Food, Environment, Agricul­ture, and Drug Supervisory of the United States.”
How are plant patents en­forced? By fear of prosecution of garden growers and farmers alike, establishment of uni­formed plant police, legalized in­spection of growing fields using any Consumma patented gene-splicing seeds. The new war is plant police hunting down seed pirates.
A side benefit for Consumma is to settle court action by awarding the transfer of land ownership to the corporation in lieu of money. This increases Consumma’s land total to ex­pand experiments and produc­tion of more GMOs.
Consumma sets the traps in Crescentville. A resident plants a patented sunflower and, Lundst­ed says, “Come fall, those beau­ties are as good as giant bill­boards for our company! And I’ll wager your next paycheck we catch those Old McDonalds swapping seeds from those very plants next spring.”
Above the ground of these spi­dery tactics, life in Crescentville has its appeal. Children grow up learning that the essence of to­morrow lies in seeds of all sorts. They and their adults spend time hunting fiddlehead ferns, having home schooled friends, abiding by “a farmer’s promise” and playing seed-saving games. Then a 3rd-grader named Tiana and her brothers get washed away on a raft down Blue Ribbon Brook. They end up on the fenced-in edge of an iso­lated experimental Consumma pharm for genetically modified pharmaceutical crops. Tiana ends up sick and is rushed to the local hospital where she falls in­to a long-term coma.
All wrath breaks forth as one discovery after another brings Consumma into the headline spotlight. Seven top secret “pharms were soon common knowledge, four on farms taken in settlement for patent infringe­ment lawsuits, the other three on land leased from desperate farmers on the brink of bankruptcy,” Sable writes.
A town meeting is called to vote on an ordinance “to prevent genetically modified organisms from being raised within the bor­ders of our town.”
Sable has used a deft hand in avoiding a full-blown polemic against biotech. Instead, she takes readers on an absorbing tour of what could very well be a real-life future of agriculture un­der the cloak of shadowy tech­niques of corporate and govern­ment collusion. In effect, her Consumma warning of planting patented seeds is a warning to real-life seed keepers. Just who owns Earth and its gifts?
Sable has Tiana’s mother Fay give Consumma back a New England warning: “No more open air planting of GMOs (genetical­ly modified organisms) in our state. Let them confine their ge­netic experiments to sealed-off greenhouses.”

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