Seeds & Breeds for 21st Century Agriculture

Reinvigorating Public Plant Breeding

Protecting our agricultural genetic diversity and expanding crop diversity is essential to the future viability of family farms and may offer promising long-term solutions to address climate change and global food security. RAFI-USA’s seeds and breeds work exists to protect our agricultural diversity by addressing some of the systemic policy root causes, such as a lack of funding and public support for classical breeding programs. We lead efforts to reinvigorate publicly-held seeds and breeds.

Food Variety Tree

A Century Ago: In 1903, commercial seed houses offered hundreds of varieties, as shown in this sampling of ten crops.

80 Years Later: By 1983, few of those varieties were found in the National Seed Storage Laboratory.*

*Changed its name in 2001 to the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation. 


  • Disappearing agricultural biodiversity
  • Lack of funding for public breeding
  • Increasing corporate power/control of the seed industry
  • Climate change and the need for regionally adapted seeds
  • Lack of public awareness about the issues, root causes, implications, and potential solutions

Our overall goal is to ensure and expand farmer, business, and consumer choices for more diverse and improved public seed variety options that can better respond to rapid climate change and growing new market opportunities. We envision a strong public breeding sector that serves as a viable alternative to GMO driven systems.


  • Advocacy for public policies that support, advance, and reinvigorate classical public plant breeding
  • Community building, networking, and grassroots education designed to bring together plant breeders, advance, and promote plant breeding & provide opportunities for collaboration and peer-to-peer learning
  • On the ground research including developing a breeding program for the Southeast, working to develop an open source concept, and other hands-on activities


Blog Posts & Action Alerts

Publications & Resources

Tell Congress NOW: Support Conservation, not Consolidation!CALL