Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

Opinion: Traditional crops keep our culture alive

2016-03-28-Eliz Mpofu.pngFirst published: Farming Matters | 32.2 | June 2016

Demand for foods based on traditional crops, with a clear link to local culture, is increasing in Zimbabwe. With this, Elizabeth Mpofu’s message is clear: policy needs to protect traditional crops and varieties, rather than introduce costly new ones, which require agrochemicals that damage nature and our health.

In the whole of Africa and especially in my country, Zimbabwe, our elders cultivated crops not just for the sake of growing food but also for many other purposes, including for health, their relationship with nature, and their cultural and spiritual practices that are important to identity and belonging. Moreover, after many decades of unsuccessful experience with the green revolution, we have seen that traditional crops are easier to grow. Thus, where l come from, many smallholder farmers are now abandoning hybrid crops grown with a lot of fertilizers and other chemicals, and are replacing them with a wide variety of traditional ones.

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ZIMSOFF and Ucama farmers join hands to fight for farmer saved seeds

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2016-05-26-Zimsoff_seeds2.jpg(Harare, May 10, 2016) Over the years, Zimbabwe Small Holder Organic Farmers' Forum (ZIMSOFF) has been campaigning against proposed seed laws that are designed to criminalise farmer-saved seed production and exchange. These laws are pushed through economic and political blocs. Blocs initially designed with good intent but are being used to push through unbeneficial schemes by a few but powerful member countries to as many countries as possible, bypassing individual nation legal processes.

Recently such is the case with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in relation to seeds. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) seek to ease the distribution of commercial registered seeds among member countries, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to enforce the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) under conditions of UPOV1 1991.

Such measures adversely affect the “informal seed systems” – a traditional system where farmers are the keepers and savers of seeds. Over 80% of all seeds in Africa is still produced and exchanged through these “informal” traditional systems.

Read more: ZIMSOFF and Ucama farmers join hands to fight...

Seed Caravan through France, Switzerland, Germany | 3rd - 12th June

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2016-05-25_Seed_Caravan_Route.pngUpdate from Junge AbL’s

At a time where seed markets are dominated by large corporations, it is essential to focus on local peasant seed production. In the seeds sector hybrids are becoming the norm and we face an increased effort to declare genetically modified plants as safe, or to give the impression, with the help of “new breeding techniques”, that we are not talking about genetic engineering at all. Against these developments it is necessary to find possibilities to maintain and increase a peasant seed supply that is locally adapted. Extreme weather due to climate change, such as long lasting droughts, increase the need for locally adapted seeds that can react flexibly in uncertain conditions. Every farmer should have the possibility of a self-determined use of such seeds. Frequently though, the required varieties for the certain location of a farm are not bred, or are not permitted for sale. This is also due to the seeds legislation that contributes to a restriction of available seeds on the market.

Read more: Seed Caravan through France, Switzerland,...

Accra to March Against Monsanto this Saturday

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2016-05-18-March_Against_Monsanto.jpgFood Sovereignty Ghana

May 16, 2016

This year's international March Against Monsanto falls on Saturday, 21st March, 2016.

Food Sovereignty Ghana and March Against Monsanto - Accra, have the pleasure to invite you to a silent march through some of the principal streets of Accra to highlight our desire for public awareness and participation in decisions regarding biotechnology in agriculture.

We believe that such decisions must not be left in the hands of multi-national corporations and their diplomatic enablers using their GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, and seed monopoly lobby to influence the outcome of government policy.

We shall be assembling in front of TV3 at 7.30 am.

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ECVC pushes for a united front in defense of Seeds

ECVC pushes for a European united front to prohibit patents on living organisms and to promote farmers’ rights to seeds and peasant resilient seed systems

logo-eurovia.png(Brussels, May 13, 2016) The European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) Seed Group organized a meeting on April 22th to 24th at the Farm in Dottenfelder Hof in the periphery of Frankfort (Germany), in order to intensify information exchanges on the breeding, exchange and use of seeds. During this meeting, different proposals and concrete practices have been discussed to strengthen peasants’ rights regarding seeds and their protection against GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism).

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Industry benefits but does not pay its dues. Patents are an assault on genetic resources

First published in Farming Matters |  May 2016 

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2016-05-09_Guy_Kastler.jpgPatents increasingly undermine the strong legal edifice patiently constructed by UPOV (1). However, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture guarantees free access to the main industrial resource of plant breeders - peasants’ seeds collected from farms across the world.

This article argues that broadening the reach of patents over genetic resources is increasingly replacing benefit sharing, which undermines the multilateral governance of our common heritage.

Read more: Industry benefits but does not pay its dues....

NFU Calls for Immediate Action to Stop GM alfalfa seed sales in Canada

Media Release

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2015-10-15_NFU.png(Canada, March 24, 2016) - The National Farmers Union (NFU) has written to Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay asking him to take immediate action to stop Monsanto licensee, Forage Genetics International, (FGI) from selling genetically modified (GM) alfalfa seed in Canada this spring. The NFU also asked the Minister to put border controls in place to prevent importation of contaminated conventional alfalfa seed from the USA.

“The NFU has seen a letter from FGI which says the company may start selling genetically modified alfalfa seed in Eastern Canada for spring planting,” said Jan Slomp, NFU President. “This would be a disaster for farmers because, once it has been planted, there would be no way to stop the GM trait from spreading to organic and conventional farms and crops. There are many domestic and export markets that completely reject alfalfa seeds, hay or pellets with any GM content. Clearly, the Minister needs to take action to protect the interests of Canadian farmers before it is too late.”

Read more: NFU Calls for Immediate Action to Stop GM...

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