2014 Seeds & Breeds Summit


March 5-7  •  The Dupont Circle Hotel, 1500 New Hampshire Ave., NW  •  Washington DC, 20036

RAFI, as part of the Seeds & Breeds for 21st Century Agriculture coalition, convened a summit to foster open-ended, peer-to-peer discussion among public plant breeders, federal policy makers, farmers and advocates. Invitees included research students and scientists from the U.S. land grant universities, who presented keynote papers, as well as USDA representatives and farmers from across the country. This was the summit’s third convening.


The purpose of the Summit, and key to this renaissance of resilience, included addressing the need for more public cultivars and breeds that are regionally adapted and readily accessible to both breeders and farmers, and that can remain in the public domain.

The Summit addressed the following issues:

  • Creating longer, profitable and more diverse crop and livestock rotations that utilize and enhance a locally adapted biodiversity of seeds and breeds.
  • Training and mentorship for the next generation of public plant and animal breeders.
  • Strengthening our public germplasm collections that house a vast array of valuable genetic diversity.
  • Achieving more options for farmer seed choices by strengthening the long-term U.S. public commitment to public cultivar development.
  • Establishing a dedicated funding and research capacity through the USDA and other public agricultural agencies.

    Front Cover of Proceedings of 2014 Summit on Seeds and Breeds

Key Findings & Recommendations

The Proceedings of the 2014 Summit on Seeds & Breeds for 21st Century Agriculture publication was published on October 31, 2014. The publication provides a compilation of the summit’s keynote papers, response papers, presentations and findings. It also provides a summary of the recommendations developed by participants during summit discussions, including short, medium and long-range recommendations and positive goals for reversing this crisis.


Recommended Reading

New Plant Breeder’s Guide Helps Keep Crop Genetics in the Public Domain (1/29/2020) - Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) and the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA) are pleased to share a new free resource for plant breeders: a guide to defensive publication, offering a way to keep genetic resources in the public domain.
A True Organizer (2/19/2019) - Michael Sligh retires from RAFI-USA after 29 years.
Bayer-Monsanto Merger: A Recipe for Food Insecurity, Uprooting Farmers (6/5/2018) - To RAFI-USA's disappointment, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved a merger between agricultural business giants, Bayer and Monsanto.
USDA Stakeholder Workshop on Coexistence of GMO and Non-GMO Crops Held in Raleigh, NC (3/12/2015) - The USDA recently convened a Stakeholder Workshop on Coexistence in Raleigh, NC. This invitation-only event was organized to address what happens when non-GMO crops are contaminated by GMO pollen. The meeting took place on March 12 and 13, 2015.
Have We Reached a Tipping Point on the Loss of Seed Biodiversity? (11/4/2014) - RAFI is very proud to release the findings of the 2014 Summit on Seeds and Breeds for the 21st Century, held in March in Washington, DC. The Summit and Proceedings are the latest in our decades-long work on biodiversity in global seeds and agronomic animal breeds.
Press Release: Report Calls For Action to Address Loss in Seed Biodiversity (10/31/2014) - Today, the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI) published the proceedings from the 2014 Summit on Seeds and Breeds for 21st Century Agriculture. The summit is part of RAFI's long-standing work to protect agricultural diversity by addressing systemic policy root causes, such as a lack of adequate funding and public support for classical breeding programs.
FY 2015 requests to USDA (4/4/2014) - Our requests for FY2015, on behalf of 58 organizations and businesses, include funding and report language that enhance public plant breeding for the 21st century.
Cary Fowler explains the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (4/3/2014) - “If we don’t have crop diversity, we don’t have food security. If we don’t have food security, we aren’t going to have physical security." Cary Fowler talks to RAFI about the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and new documentary, Seeds of Time.
Press Release: Researchers, Policy Makers and Advocates Host 2014 Summit on Seeds & Breeds in D.C. (2/26/2014) - The summit will serve as a forum for expert panelists to present their research and foster open-ended, peer-to-peer discussion among public plant breeders, federal policymakers, farmers and advocates.
North Carolina Organic Grain Guide 2013 (8/28/2013) - The North Carolina Organic Grain Production Guide for 2013 was created by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Organic Grain Project and the NCSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The 2014 Summit on Seeds and Breeds for 21st Century Agriculture was made possible by the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI) and financial supporters including Clif Bar Family Foundation, Organic Valley Family of Farms, Seed Matters and individual donors committed to addressing these important issues.

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