This video clip explains the importance of seeds, and seed diversity far better than I can.
This is huge, and truly HORRIBLE.
I’ve just learned the EU is trying to pass a new law that would outlaw the selling or trading of heirloom varieties of seeds. If passed, this law would benefit only the multinational seed companies – like Monsanto – while endangering biodiversity and the safety of future food production.
If this is a sign of things to come, we are all at risk, not just the countries of Europe.
Why does any of this matter? The answer is complicated but I’ll try and boil it down to a few key issues.
1. Farmers are currently growing crops based on a few hybrid seed varieties.
2. These hybrid seeds are owned by a few, ginormous, multinational seed companies who own the patents, and have a virtual monopoly on food production.
3. But the multinationals CANNOT own or patent heirloom seeds.
4. There are hundreds, if not thousands of heirloom seeds for each grain or vegetable variety. This means biodiversity. It also means that if anything terrible happens to the commercially grown seeds, we would have these heirloom varieties to fall back on.
5. At the moment, heirloom seeds are kept alive by small farmers around the world, AND BY GARDENERS. We are like a huge, distributed seed bank. We, and the heirloom seeds we keep alive are the backup if anything goes wrong in the mono-culture world of big agriculture.
6. If the EU passes this new law, small farmers, seed-saver organizations and backyard gardeners will no longer be able to buy, or even give away heirloom seeds to friends or neighbours. It will be illegal. And so in a short time these precious seeds would die out.
7. If the multinationals get their way in the EU, they will target some other country next. Perhaps Australia. In time they will make this a global reality. No more heirloom seeds anywhere. No more backup in case of disaster. No more biodiversity. We will literally have all our eggs in one basket and that basket will be owned by the multinationals.
I know some of you will think ‘So what? I don’t buy or eat those old vegies anyway. Why should I care?’
My answer is to look at the potato famine that hit Ireland 200 hundred years ago. At the time, most of the poorest people lived on next to nothing but potatoes. When a potato blight ruined the crops, the poorest people starved.
Now imagine if something similar hit our wheat crops. They are mono-cultures too. Millions and millions of acres of the same crop grown the world over. What would a pandemic amongst our most important food crops do to the Western World? Would McDonalds start serving hamburgers without the bun?
We all believe that things like the potato famine could never happen again because our technology would fix the problem quick smart. Unfortunately this is a comforting fairytale. There are pests and crop diseases still in existence that have been around since agriculture was first invented. Our technology keeps these things in check, but that is all.
Think about it. If technology could fix everything then why are we still using so many pesticides and herbicides?
The truth is that sometimes the only way to ‘fix’ a problem is to start from scratch, using old, primitive seeds that have a natural resistance to the pest or disease. If all those old, unpatentable seeds die out, where are we going to turn in a crisis?
This new law being put forward by the EU may not affect you, or me, or our kids, but sooner or later it will affect humanity as a whole. Something will come along, and it will smash all those big, shiny eggs in our basket. And then an awful lot of people will starve.
This is not science fiction. I wish it were. This is the real world, and we have to stop it from happening. Please do what you can to safeguard our future.