Seeds must be publicly owned!

Reading Time: 3 min
planting seeds waiting to germinate

Did you know that if you went to your local seed bank and bought a seed it most likely isn’t open-pollinated (OP)? What does that mean? That no you can’t save the seeds from that vegetable. Why? because they are genetically unstable and are protected by seed and patent laws, meaning most farmers are tied to chains of dependency.

The next year you will have to rebuy and replant all over again… this is why there is now a seed saving movement.

What is the seed saving movement?

The seed saving movement has been growing for sometime in the UK, led by all types of growers: farms, small allotments, school playgrounds and backyards, in the hopes of bringing back seed ownership to the people and away from agrochemical companies—that control more than 60% of the world’s seed trade. Their method? Age old seed saving and swapping. How it works? Every grower is linked through an informal network, and together they swap saved OP seeds, either simply: swap a tomato seed for a radish seed, or once a year they gather in Brighton for Seedy Sunday—the UK’s biggest seed swap event.

the pandemic…

The coronavirus pandemic saw a surge of people joining the seed saving movement as demand for seeds grew by 600%. As supermarket shelves emptied, and people stayed indoors cooking, many felt the disconnection between our broken food system and looked to return to nature, however what they noticed made them worry. Covid made people realize how our food system is controlled by a few large corporations that modify and patent our seeds. This put a focus on seed sovereignty and “a grower’s right to breed and exchange diverse, open source seeds, which can be saved and are not patented, genetically modified, or owned by one of the four agrochemical companies that control more than 60% of the global seed trade.”

“If you own the seeds you own the food system, access to open-pollinated seeds is the cornerstone of food citizenship because it creates non-market access to growing.”—Helene Schulze director of London Freedom Seed bank

The one silver lining the pandemic had? Seed saving becoming mainstream in the UK.

What could seed saving and seed activism achieve?

  1. It can address the sharp decline in vegetable varietiees and biodiversity loss

    • Since 1900, we have lost 0 of genetic diversity in plants (FAO) and 93& of our unique seed varieties have disappeared. Why? due to the industrial agriculture and agrochemicals. By returning to traditional farming methods and saving seeds, crops are more diverse and adapted to the local soil and climate.
  2. it has the power to dismantle seed privatization: seed saving and swapping is claiming back our right to do so.

    • Currently the 2/3 of the world’s seeds are patented and owned by 4 agrochemical companies that have vested interests in maintaing the status quo
    • Campaigners at Open Source Seeds are pushing to bring back public ownership of seeds
  3. Seed saving and swapping avoids buying from agrochemical companies’ seeds that are largely GM or F1 hybrid seeds and continues OP seeds (open-pollinated)

    • GM or F1 hybrid seeds are genetically modified to not be saved. ie. so that you HAVE to keep buying from them year after year—meaning most farmers are tied to chains of dependency.
    • Less than 50 years ago, most of the world enjoyed food that came from entirely OP seed varieties, which could be saved for future crops.

“Access to OP seeds is the cornerstone of food citizenship because it creates non-market access to growing. I want all local communities or regions to have their own seed bank, so everyone knows exactly where to get free seed.”—Helene Schulze

If you didn’t think monsanto was evil yet, we hope you do now…Source: seeds saving movement calls for seeds to be publicly owned—The Guardian


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