Participants : Gabi, Mélanie S, Clemence, Ben
Why use farmers' seeds?Seeds are essential for our agriculture. But should we choose Peasant's seeds or commercial seeds?
What are the differences between these two types of seeds? Why use this one?
We will talk about the different type of seeds that exist in the world and draw the advantages and disadvantages of them : peasant's seeds and Commercial seeds.
Today, there's a real fight between that two type of seeds' supporters, reflecting a real contrast : protecting biodiversity and modify nature so that it fits to human. New type of GMOs gradually invade the market and free seeds are becoming more and more inaccessible.
Lots of people gather to defend their right and keep the propriety of lands and plants into farmer's hands and not industrials'. A big stake that's inherent to this problematic too is to preserve the knowledge acquired for generations.
idt: firstname.lastname@example.org / mdp : melanie05
WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?Monsanto, Bayer and big agriculture commercial companies are winning more and more place in this sector. For example, "when an Indian farmer plants his cotton crop, there’s at least a 75% chance the seeds have been been bought from a company owned by Monsanto. If a Latin American farmer sprays insecticide on her genetically engineered soya beans, the chemical is more than likely to have been provided by German chemical and drugs company Bayer or by US firm Dupont." It's substantially the same with African farmers.
To resume, six or seven agri-food business share seeds and chemicals' market. More precisely, three companies are actually controlling 60% of the world’s seeds, nearly 70% of the chemicals and pesticides, and this, with the caution of governments, leading to a single model of farming that excludes small-scale farmers. Moreover, GMOs seeds are commercialized come from Monsanto for 90% of them, and 70% of all their seeds selled are resistant to Roundup. For instance too, 80% of USA's corn come from this firm. Indeed, big companies expand their power in the south countries and outcompete national enterprises there. These companies make sure that the benefit will go to them : they exerce pressure on governments, selling seeds and chemicals that fit together and that drive farmers to become dependents, manipulating public opinion...
Silvia Ribeiro, director of ETC’s Latin American office in Mexico says : “[There is] huge pressure from these giant companies to make laws and regulations in our countries that allow them to dominate markets, crush farmers’ rights and make peasant seeds illegal."
REGLEMENTATIONThe certification is an official proof. Seeds are subject to the marketing rules (national regulations and common rules of the European Union) : they are inspected before their commissioning, and must correspond to the established standards.
At a time, most marketed varieties were similar to farmer varieties. So the commercial seeds were not useful to farmers. So today, the legislators decided to create a specific system to protect breeeder’s varieties with the plant breeder’s rights (PBR), so that new productive seeds keep the advantage.
So, today there are three different intellectual property : PBR, Patents and peasant's seeds
PBR (Farmer's seeds)
- The variety must be distinct from all other varieties (perhaps a simple discovery)
- Any breeder may freely use the protected variety to breed another variety.
- Farmers may reuse seeds without the breeder's permission, but they must pay him a remuneration.
- Possibility of using the variety for non-commercial and/or experimental purposes.
Ex: Seeds sold in garden centres are PBRs
- Only applies to new creations with an innovative character. Variety cannot be a simple discovery.
- Requirement to have the authorization of the patent holder and pay fees to use it.
- Must have the authorization of the patent holder to reuse it.
Ex : Monsanto owns all these seeds in patent form
Free seed that are selected from the farmers and can be reused without authorization.
We can say that there is a big stake in developing countries : if these giants arrive before the creation of a local stable economy, they will get the advantage and poverty will never disappear. On the contrary, part of a culture and knowledge developed for years by past generations and farming communities will die out. Indeed, only 12 species represent 3/4 of world alimentation (FAO), and 75% of cultivated species' varieties have disappeared.
ZOOM ON PEASANT'S SEEDS
Farmers' seeds are free. They can be reused several times without counterpart (information to be verified with our interview). The seeds are adapted to the country's climate and soil, which makes them more resistant to different diseases and climatic conditions.
There are therefore reductions or even disappearance of chemicals (Roundup, herbicides, insecticides...) which makes it possible to recover agricultural biodiversity (bees, plants characteristic of the environment...)
This is an example of a person who denounces the current facts and the actions they are taking : Vendana Shiva
Vandana Shiva is an Indian activist and committed to the protection of peasant seeds. She create founder of Navdanya. The objective is protect the biological and cultural diversity.
She‘s very famous for her engagement and her expertise about the problematic of seeds.
She say “The food is an arm, when you control arms your control armies, when you control food you control society, when you control seeds you control the life on the earth” it’s the reason why she defend the right of the farmers to control their seeds.
She’s a personality recognized in the world for her work and particulary in india where do she come from and act.
In india the seeds is a real prize because when the gmo’s and come lot’s of farmers buy them with debt. Since is impossible to replant them they can’t repay their debts this situation have produce a situation actual which lot’s of peasants suicides.
It is at the origin of the creation of all the seed banks present in India. These allow farmers to choose their seeds and to have local seeds adapted to climatic conditions.
Vandana shiva attact the roots of one of the principal actual problem in the agriculture world.
It is preferable to use peasant seeds because
- they are more environmentally friendly
- they have adapted to the climate and soil : more resistant
- they do not operate large firms (Monsanto)
- they are of better quality (taste and nutrients)
- it is a cultural heritage
- they don't need pesticides to grow
- they have lower productivity than commercial seeds
- they are more expensive and more difficult to find
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