The commercial end of seed production has undergone a tremendous change in the last 40-50 years. At one time, small, competitive family owned companies dominated the seed industry. I remember my father selling non-hybrid soybean seed right out of our storage bin in the 1970's. Now the industry is dominated by transnational pharmaceutical/chemical corporations. This began by corporations buying small seed companies and merging. The process continues because farmers are encouraged to forsake the old open pollinated varieties in favour of hybrids with more production. Thus each year, farmers buy
their seed instead of replanting from last years harvest. This resulted in a shift of focus as more research was done on the more profitable crops and the old heirloom varieties were dropped. Phil Howard of Michigan State University put together a visual of what has happened.