“We are in a food emergency. Speculation and diversion of food to biofuel has contributed to an uncontrolled price rise, adding more to the billion already denied their right to food. Industrial agriculture is pushing species to extinction through the use of toxic chemicals that kill our bees and butterflies, our earthworms and soil organisms that create soil fertility. Plant and animal varieties are disappearing as monocultures displace biodiversity. Industrial, globalized agriculture is responsible for 40 percent of greenhouse gases, which then destabilize agriculture by causing climate chaos, creating new threats to food security.
But the biggest threat we face is the control of seed and food moving out of the hands of farmers and communities and into a few corporate hands. Monopoly control of cottonseed and the introduction of genetically engineered Bt cotton has already given rise to an epidemic of farmers’ suicides in India. A quarter-million farmers have taken their lives because of debt induced by the high costs of nonrenewable seed, which spins billions of dollars of royalty for firms like Monsanto
I started Navdanya in 1987 to address the challenge of GM seeds, seed patents and seed monopolies.
We have been successful in reclaiming seed sovereignty and creating sixty community seed banks to reclaim seed as a commons. We have proven that biodiverse ecological agriculture produces more food and nutrition per acre than monocultures, while reducing costs to the planet and to farmers…..”
More on this theme: “The President and the Seed”, from Kristina Hubbard, in “The Daily Yonder”:
“Last week President Obama held a town hall meeting on the grounds of Iowa’s Seed Savers Exchange, an organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds.
The stop was part of a larger strategy to appeal to rural voters as the campaign season begins. The president spoke about job creation and the gridlock on Capitol Hill, both issues of concern, to be sure.
But what would have really resonated with rural America is a re-commitment to working toward fairness in our farm fields.
The President should know that growing economic opportunities in rural America will take confronting the concentrated market power (and thus political and legislative power) in several agricultural industries. It will take fulfilling a campaign promise to fight for family farmers and ranchers by ensuring fair and transparent markets.
The President couldn’t have picked a better spot to make this point. His venue, Seed Savers, is home to a trove of genetically diverse seed. It is the perfect counterpoint to the alarming privatizing and concentration of seed ownership, the monopolization of a vital resource. Currently, the top three firms account for more than 75 percent of U.S. corn seed sales — just one example.
Monsanto is the largest seed company in the world, receiving royalties from nearly every acre of corn, soybeans, and cotton planted in the U.S.; it also has a hand in much of the vegetable and sugar beet seed supply. Indeed, this level of control over our plant genetic resources and the narrowing of diversity makes the mission of groups like Seed Savers Exchange so much more important.
Confronting the business concentration in the seed business is paramount for the success of farmers, especially new farmers and businesses seeking to cultivate a niche in agriculture. But just as seeds as an organism are complex, so is untangling the roots of seed concentration. …”