GE -Seeds of Resistance have germinated!
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- Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 18:19:22 +0100
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* The Seeds of Resistance have germinated! *
One persons view of the gathering in Cambridge, September 6-8:
Day one was spent getting exctied about wonderul seed catalogues and seed
saving information as well as exchanging personal trials and tribulations of
growing and campaigning. We were very priveleged to hear Pat Mooney from RAFI
give a talk as well as Pat Mulvaney from Intermediate Technology. (However I
could have done without Pat Mooneys terrifying information about
Naonotechnology - watch this space for more info if you really want to be
freaked out). There were other inspiring talks and workshops including one
Mary, she talked about the excellent work of the Henry Doubleday Research
Assocition and about the rewards of planting and saving heritage seeds on her
Day two was spent discussing and planning actions against the World Seed
In the evening some people went along to the World Seed Conferences self
congratulatory dinner. People entered the enormous banqueting room and
the entrance steps and announced:
"Ladies and gentleman - we are here to - SAVE THE SEED!"
Cutlery was quickly put down and we even had some applause.
One person then jumped up on a central table and told people why we were
while others wandered from table to table. People carrying spray bottles with
"Roundup" stickers asked diners: "Would you like some Roundup with your
Most declined but were told "well neither do we - but we have no choice" -
before having the remains of their meal sprayed with harmless salt-water.
Most delegates and thier guests seemed quite amused at the goings on - and we
certainly had lots of fun before making a quick exit into the night.
The following day we took our serious message to the conference itself - (see
below for press release).
Many delegates were greeted on the way to lunch by a half human/ half
cutout of Arnold Schwartzeneger as: "The Terminator - TARGET - Seed
coming soon to a field near you!" as well as a criminal in his prison cage -
selling illegal seeds (see below) for a penny a packet.
The response was incredibly interesting as so many delegates were eager to
discuss the issues and defend themselves that we were soon surrounded. Many
were not part of the huge multinationals and agreed with some of our points of
After lunch another group went into the conference and took over the stage at
the start of a workshop that was to talk about privatising the seed! So
of hearing ways in which to speed up this process even further - delegates
treated first to a song about the wrongs of seed privatisation (more
applause!?) followed by at a five minute talk on the wrongs of Plant Breeders.
After shutting down the workshop, security escorted the group from the
building. However delegates invited people back in, past the security, for
coffee and further discussion!
Ways forward and positive answers to industrial agriculture were a big part of
the gathering and it is hoped that there will be more of the same to follow
Watch this space for more info and contact details!
SEEDS OF RESISTANCE CHALLENGE AGROTERRORISM
For Immediate use 8/9/1999
People attending the Seeds of Resistance gathering challenged
participants at the World Seed Conference in Cambridge on the claimed
benefits of seed monopolization. They raised questions about the
implications of 'terminator technology', and the privatisation of seeds in
developing countries. On Wednesday morning they were outside
the conference to highlight these issues where they sold 'illegal
seeds' (1), through the bars of a mock prison cell.
Seeds of Resistance participant Joyce Hambling said today: 'The ability to
terminate the reproductivity of seeds, and the ability to then reinstate that
reproductivity with chemical additives - controlling and preventing
reproductivity at will - gives the megacorporate world complete control not
only over what the world eats, but also whether they eat or not'.
The group will question whether this agroterrorism (2) is really the way to
'feed the world's poor', as the agrochemical world claims. Farmers would
have to pay the companies for chemicals to enable their crops to produce
The group will also argue that farmers, especially of the developing world,
should not be disadvantaged as the whole area of seed reproduction becomes
privatized. The biodiversity of plants around the world has been developed
and respected by small farmers for thousands of years. This diversity is held
in trust for
future generations as a common heritage. As the conference discussed ways to
expand their markets into developing countries who traditionally save and
exchange seeds, Seeds of Resistance drew attention to our dwindling plant
varieties and the patenting of plants by transnational corporations (TNCs).
Another Seeds of Resistance participant said:
'We expect that in global economic terms companies controlling seed
production like Monsanto will be taken over by the huge food processing
multinationals. Food processing multinationals have the most to gain
ultimately from seed control and modification. If this happens, the
world's food will be controlled by a handful of global corporations.
We need to ask the questions now. Locally produced seed,
controlled and distributed by local farmers is the key to feeding the
world, not uniform crops that are fed into processing plants instead
Notes to Editors:
(1) 'Illegal Seeds' - Plant varieties that are not registered and kept on the
National Seed Listing annually cannot be legally sold. Because of the
prohibitive price involved in maintaining seeds on the list, varieties are in
effect becoming extinct, unless individuals keep growing saved seed.
The implications of these losses
is demonstrated by the disappearance of two cauliflower varieties originating
in Cornwall, which had a natural resistance to ringspot, a disease that ruins
the crop. This is just one example of a problem which has enormous
consequences for staple crops around the world. Commercial varieties that are
developed for the listing are selected for their suitability for industrial
processing. This ignores the needs
of the growers and farmers who are developing and sustaining localised,
The organisation who oversee the international harmonisation of seed listing
regulations are one of the conference organisers, UPOV, which is the
agricultural arm of the World Intellectual Property Organisation.
(2) The conference included representatives of global organisations who
control seed use worldwide, as well as multinational corporations, whose
proprietary seeds have been developed to use with their proprietary
chemicals. The latest products developed by the biotech industry have been
genetically engineered to grow only with the aid of chemicals to switch on
and off their normal growth functions (root production, fruiting, fertile
seeds etc). There are currently over thirty patents for the systems and their
associated seeds and chemicals, givin TNC's the ability to hold farmers and
whole nations as economic hostages. This control over crops by companies and
government opens the way for 'agroterrorism'.
This 'bioserfdom' is supported by the systems imposed by the World Trade
Organisation rules and the conditions of structural readjustment imposed by
the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. For the latest figures of
ten companies that own the seed, agrochemical and biotechnology companies,
and their share of the global market, see <http://www.rafi.org/>www.rafi.org.
For more information contact: Joyce Hambling 0966 464606