Take control of the seed and you take control of the food supply system
The consolidation and oligopolisation of Big Agra has been unprecedented in recent years. Resulting in the shocking reality that 60% of the global seed market is now controlled by just four companies. Forecasts put the value of the global commercial seed market by 2025 at US$ 61.32 billion a rise of over US$21 billion over 2017. Seed patenting is removing plant husbandry from the hands of farmers. Leading to less and less non-GMO options, significantly reduced biodiversity, higher prices for farmers, more chemical use along with severe penalties if farmers try to save seeds (a practice relied on by many farmers in developing countries). With less competition comes a reduction in innovation and development in the seed market. This is of particular concern in less developed regions where food security is still a very real issue.
Seeds of food plants represent one of our most precious genetic resources. They also represent one of the biggest opportunities to either control the world’s food supply or improve the sustainability and security of our food production systems, as well as the livelihoods that are supported by them. Using agroecological methods plants can be selected to naturally resist disease, thrive without the use of pesticides and be adaptable to changing local climates, soil health and environmental conditions, as well as improving the quality of our food. More resilient plants that are well adapted to specific biogeographic regions that can better withstand pests and diseases can in turn reduce the amount of chemicals required to grow them bringing life back to environments and the organisms that live there.
We take a look back on #ThrowbackThursday at the insidious creep of the super-sizing of Big Agra conglomerates and their increasingly tight grip on the global seed supply.
Why farmers can no longer save and share seeds. The battle for control of our food chain
How far will governments go to help Big Agra promote and protect its products? An uncomfortable side effect of the industrialisation and globalisation of agriculture has been the handing over of the control of our food supply to an ever-smaller number of super-sized corporations.
These corporate conglomorates have made global agriculture more dependent on the seeds, fertilizers and pesticides that they sell. While pesticide and fertilizer sales have plateaued in the industrialised West, China, India and other emerging markets represent by far the largest and fastest growing markets for these products. While Big Agra reaps the financial benefits, the rest of the world bears the cost, notably to our health and the ecosystems on which we all depend for our survival.
Proposed new 'seed law' uses familiar tactics to help the big seed companies
Last year, we drew your attention to European Commission (EC) proposals for an ‘Animal & Plant Health Package’ (APHP), ominously intended to regulate everything ‘from farm to fork’. Central to the APHP is a review of existing legislation on seed and plant propagating material, known in the real world as seeds. If you have misgivings about the bureaucratic monster that is the EC exerting further control over Europe’s seed supply, we’re right there with you – and we’re not alone. The EC’s proposed ‘seed law’ is turning out to be one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in its history. Here’s our lowdown of the issues, the current situation and how to make your voice heard.
Control is the common thread connecting several vital issues
In Europe, a new battle looms over the availability and free exchange of seeds, joining the worldwide struggle against genetically modified (GM) organisms. What’s it all about? To paraphrase a famous saying, “It’s control of the food supply, stupid”.