Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Seeds,Climate Change and Food Security

Guest Post by Helena Sanchez Giraldez

Through history people have moved around the world and taken with them the seeds of the plants and trees that provide them with food, medicinal remedies and shelter. The history of human beings is closely related to the evolution and development of plants. Plants that originally came from one country have adapted to the different geographical and climatic conditions in others, evolving, changing and interacting with new locations and circumstances as a result of their diverse gene pool.
Crop varieties have been selected along history by communities, farmers, peasants and individuals for a diverse range of reasons. As we are all diverse, we have a diverse sense to select plants to adapt them to our needs, cultural and creative desires.

Modern breeding, industrialised agriculture and legislations promoted by commercial trading companies, are bringing communities into non-sense production and living systems which are not longer sustainable for life in our planet.
Bad agricultural practices, indiscriminate use of herbicide and pesticides and the non-equitable social benefit-share of the resources are causing serious damage to our living environments.

For generations our ancestors have lived in a better harmony with nature, learning, observing and adapting their ways of farming and growing to new geographical, climatic and social circumstances. They accumulated thousands of years of knowledge that we are losing at gigantic steps.

Some case studies in disaster situations shows that traditional agricultural systems support better the negative impacts of weather conditions such as floods and sand wash than monoculture systems. Traditional farming systems, including a diverse range of agricultural crops, wind protection bushes and trees around the farms, stand up better than those farms with monocultures were living protection barriers do not exit. The capacity of communities for the recuperation from disaster and crisis situations relies upon the free access to seeds to re-establish their food production systems and livelihoods.

Traditional knowledge about seed saving and community seed banks or collection management is getting lost due to the substitution of traditional saved seeds for annual company seed supplies of “better seeds” ”new seeds” ”high yielding seeds”.
Education and training on seed saving and seed collection management for communities could be a good instrument to re-establish agricultural biodiversity lost at global level for different purposes. These seeds could be used for On-farm or in-garden seed production whether it is for self-sufficient or home food consumption, for food local markets or food national trade. All depending on the country profile, the population needs and the existence of an appropriated legislation frame work to enable this to happen.

On Farm and In-Garden Seed Conservation and Education
Seed saving is gaining importance in Europe where various NGO´s, peasants and farmers organisations are promoting the on-farm and in-garden seed conservation.

The main reason behinds these are:
 The increase lost of agricultural biodiversity and biodiversity in general at global level.
 The increase of public awareness about climate change, food miles, crop adaptability and food security.
 The lack of access to genetic resources and the increase dependency of farmers, peasants and communities from multinational seed companies.
 The food insecurity created my GMO crops contamination which undermine consumers and farmers choice to freedom.
 The lack of a diverse range of commercial varieties suitable for organic farming conditions and consumers food demand.
 The disappearing of the traditional knowledge associated to traditional agricultural systems which could help to mitigate the negative effects of climate change and help to develop more sustainable agricultural systems.
 The negative effects on the environment caused in the last 40 years due to bad agricultural practices and industrialisation which has lead to water resources contamination, soil degradation and biodiversity lost.
 The love for healthy and diverse food and the benefits that growing food for consumption could bring for the day to day life, joy and happiness of people.
 The right to be able to feed our future generations with healthy food and provide them with healthy environmental conditions to live upon.
 The right of the communities to protect their seeds and their autonomy over their food systems and life.
 The awareness about the situations of farmers and peasant communities in south countries and the threat that the substitution and lost of their traditional crop diversity will mean to their living survival.

On-Farm and In-garden seed saving contributes to local, regional, national and international food security and empowers communities to be able to survive in adverse and crisis situations.
On-Farm and In-Garden seed saving and home food growing enrich the diets and self-reliance of home growers in north countries, could provide organic farmers with diversity to supply local markets and enable small-scale farmers to survive in South countries.
Having free access to seeds is fundamental for our living, as simple as that.
Our genetic resources can not be trapped in gene banks, we need to liberate the resources, recuperate the traditional varieties still grown by some farmers and communities and multiply the seeds to make them available widely.
As people grows their own seeds, local, regional and national food security increases so the autonomy of peoples life’s and food systems.


Bill McDorman said...

Find detailed seed saving information on the website of this 20 year-old non-profit:

Seed saving is the ritual that made human civilization possible. It will surely allow it to continue. Organize your own region seed swap this fall. Invite all the seed savers from your region and invite them to trade for what they need.

Adrian Windisch said...

Cheers Bill, good advice. The link unfortunately doesnt work for me.