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Friday, 8 August 2014

A Seed Ark to Protect Our Food Supply Diversity

I received an e-mail some time ago about a group of farmers that are trying to store up seeds in order to protect our planet from companies that are trying to gain a monopoly on our food supply, (and by so doing these companies are risking the lives of everyone in the world). When I saw the e-mail and petition, I asked permission to re-post it, because I felt it was an important thing these farmers are doing, and I'd like to spread the word as much as possible. Here's the e-mail in its entirety:



Dear friends,

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The source of our planet’s food is under threat. Ten agro-chemical firms own 73% of the commercial seed market, and as many as 93% of seed varieties have gone extinct. In the US alone 85% of apple varieties have disappeared.

Monsanto and co. are privatising the genesis of nature. And this corporate takeover is decimating sustainable farming, destroying the diversity of our crops, and making them vulnerable to diseases that could threaten our food security.

But farmers are resisting, saving seeds in banks and barns across the world. Now they have devised a revolutionary project -- the first ever, non-profit “eBay” of seed where any farmer, anywhere can source a wide variety of plants cheaper than the genetically modified seeds from chemical companies. This global online store could re-flood the market with all kinds of seeds and slowly break the monopoly that is putting our food future at risk!

This could be the most innovative agricultural idea in decades -- a Noah’s Ark of seeds. But chemical companies often bully and sue those that get in their way, and farmers are calling on us to support them. If we raise enough now we can help them launch the online site, support seed storing in key countries, finance marketing and advertising, and fund the legal defence to fight back.

Pledge to help kick start the Noah's Ark -- Avaaz will only process donations if we raise enough to launch the whole initiative:

For thousands of years agriculture was driven by farmers selecting, replanting, and breeding seed varieties. Then the agro-chemical companies persuaded many governments to promote a corporate system of industrial, single-crop farming. Companies promise farmers higher yields and bigger earnings, and often lure them into multi-year contracts for GM (genetically modified) seeds and pesticides. Then they rely on patent laws and use agreements to strong-arm farmers to abandon their traditional practices of seed saving and innovation.

There is still no consensus on the long-term effects of GM crops, but experts say that the lack of independent scientific studies means there may be serious risks to our health from some GM foods. And there isn’t clear evidence that the introduction of GM seeds has improved farmers' incomes or provided more food for the world's people -- in fact in many cases it has driven small independent farmers out of business and in extreme cases to suicide to avoid debt.

The dire consequences go way beyond the farmers. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation more than three-quarters of the genetic diversity of our crops has been lost due to seed consolidation and industrial practices. This matters because when we cover large swathes of land with just one cash crop -- instead of rotating or diversifying them -- our farms are more susceptible to diseases. While genetic modification may increase some crop yields, it's clear that without seed diversity and locally-tailored sustainable practices to confront changing environmental conditions -- our global food security could be at risk.

But this crisis isn’t insurmountable. The takeover is only decades old, farmers have saved seed everywhere, and if supported widely, this online seed market could help recover our food. A coalition of more than 20 groups and leaders in the field of sustainable agriculture like the Center for Food Safety and activist Vandana Shiva are standing by ready to launch the project. Here’s how our funds can help:
  • directly support seed-saving initiatives in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.
  • create a world class website for the online store that connects farming communities everywhere, allowing them to legally sell seeds and share best practices globally.
  • help fund legal defence of this non-profit seed market from legal attacks by Monsanto and others.
  • market and advertise the exchange so that farmers all over the world join up.
  • campaign for better protections for our existing seeds from corporate takeover and patents.
Monsanto’s been forcing their GM seeds and vision of mass industrial agriculture on farmers (and all of us) for years, but if we all pitch in we can build this Noah's Ark for our remaining seed species! Chip in now and Avaaz will only process the pledge if we raise enough to make this plan work:
           
“To plant a seed is to activate the deepest mysteries of the Universe.” These seeds hold the origin and mystery of so much of life as we know it. Let's support this movement to protect that mystery from complete corporate control and help bring back thousands of food plants we thought were already lost.

With hope and determination,

Alice, Maria Paz, Nick, Emma, Ricken, Antonia, Patricia, Mais, Emily, Diego and the whole Avaaz team


MORE INFORMATION:

2013 Report: Wake Up Before It's Too Late (UN Conference on Trade and Development)
http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ditcted2012d3_en.pdf

On India’s Farms, a Plague of Suicide (New York Times)
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/19/world/asia/19india.html

How many farmers plant GM worldwide? (EuropaBio)
http://www.europabio.org/how-many-farmers-plant-gm-worldwide

Ministry blames Bt cotton for farmer suicides (Hindustan Times)
http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/ministry-blames-bt-cotton-for-farmer-suicides/article1-830798.aspx

Monsanto Lawsuits Pile Up as American Farmers Demand Rights (Mother Earth News)
http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/monsanto-lawsuits-from-family-farmers-zwfz1302zkin.aspx#axzz36IwTZWF7

Life in the Rural Police State of Monsanto (Truth Out)
http://truth-out.org/news/item/16985-life-in-the-rural-police-state-of-monsanto

From 1903 -1983 the world lost 93 percent of key seed varieties (National Geographic)
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/07/food-ark/food-variety-graphic

The pernicious characteristics of monocultures (PBS)
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/hackers/blame/threat.html

Norway invests $23.7 million in crop diversity to help farmers face climate change (FAO)
http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/197662/icode/

World Food Day 2004 highlights the importance of biodiversity to global food security (FAO)
http://www.fao.org/NEWSROOM/EN/news/2004/51140/index.html

Political Power of the Agribusiness & Crop Insurance Lobbies (Taxpayers for Common Sense)
http://www.taxpayer.net/images/uploads/downloads/Political_Power_of_Farm_And_Crop_Insurance_Lobbies_Fact_Sheet.pdf

Putting the Cartel before the Horse (ETC)
http://www.etcgroup.org/sites/www.etcgroup.org/files/CartelBeforeHorse11Sep2013.pdf


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