Historically, seed companies were generally small, often family-run businesses. Because they were regionally based, they could focus on varieties well-suited to the local environment. A Pacific Northwest company, for example, would specialize in different cultivars than a company based in the Southeast. However the absorption of these small, independent seed businesses into large multinationals, combined with the advancement of biotechnology resulting in hybrids and GMO seeds, has led to a serious loss of genetic diversity. The public is now at the mercy of the corporations that control the seeds.
In the past few years, gardeners have realized the inherent danger in this situation. A growing movement is striving to preserve and expand our stock of heritage and heirloom varieties through seed saving and sharing opportunities.