Is the next big challenge in food production disappearing seed diversity?

A recent op-ed from celebrity chef Dan Barber in the New York Times lamented the fact that more than 60 percent of global seed shares are now controlled by just four mega agrochemical firms. The result, he argues, is that farmers are forced to grow the same, often expensive crops, using particular blends of fertilizers and pesticides — and both the environment and flavor can suffer.

Corby Kummer joined Boston Public Radio to weigh in on this topic and more. Kummer is executive director of the food and society policy program at the Aspen Institute, a senior editor at The Atlantic, and a senior lecturer at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

"This is part of the general reduction in biodiversity because of big agriculture and big industry," Kummer said. "What does that mean? It means lots of big harvest, plenty of yield in the short run, on track to feed the billions of people in the future, but not on track to preserve biodiversity — when you need other crops and when these engineered foods start to fail."

Kummer says he doesn't believe big agriculture's monopoly on seeds is a sustainable model for the future.

"I think gene editing is the future of feed, which is a controversial opinion," he said. "What I don't believe is the future of feed is four companies having in their hands most of the world market that lots of farmers are priced out of."