Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version

April 2002


Published in Cornhusker Economics, 04/24/2002. Produced by the Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


In early 1998, the news media reported that researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Delta and Pine Land Company of Scott, Mississippi, had devised a method for developing plants whose seeds could be made incapable of germinating. Such a technology would be of little interest to the commercial seed corn industry because widespread use of hybrid seed corns means farmers must rely on retailers to sell them new seed every year. Farmers who saved seeds from a harvest of hybrid corn to plant the following year would produce a widely varying crop of inferior quality. Therefore, seed corn companies are able to maintain control over their products and have an incentive to develop new and better varieties of hybrid seed.