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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

THE LAST SEEDS


The National Geographic infographic shows just how many varieties of fruits and vegetables appear near extinction. Even more concerning is the fact that the data is already more than 30 years old, and the problem may have gotten even worse since. 

Seeds represent the foundation of life. We depend on them for food, for medicine and for our very survival. In many ways, you can trace the underpinnings of any given culture through the heritage of their crops and seeds.

It wasn’t long ago when seeds were mostly the concern of farmers who, as the Worldwatch Institute put it, “were the seed producers and the guardians of societies’ crop heritage.” But this is no longer the case. 

Once considered to be the property of all, like water or even air, seeds have become largely privatized, such that only a handful of companies now control the global food supply.

Agriculture has been around for 10,000 years, but the privatization of seeds has only occurred very recently. In that short time, seed diversity has been decimated, farmers have been put out of business due to rising seed costs… and the pesticide companies that control most seeds today have flourished. 

According to Worldwatch:

“…by the early 1900s, the U.S. and Canadian governments began promoting the development of large export-oriented agriculture industries based on only a few crops and livestock species. 

To maximize uniformity and yields, seed breeding moved off the farm and into centralized public research centers, such as U.S. land grant universities. Variety development became commodity-oriented

Scientific advances in the 1970s and ’80s heralded a new era in agriculture. To boost flat sales, Monsanto and other agrichemical companies ventured into genetic engineering and transformed themselves into the biotechnology industry

They bought out traditional seed companies and engineered their herbicide-resistant genes into the newly acquired seed lines.”  It’s been all downhill from there…

If you were alive in 1903, you would have been able to choose from more than 500 varieties of cabbage, 400 varieties of peas and tomatoes, and 285 varieties of cucumbers. 

Eighty years later in 1983, the varieties had dwindled sharply, to just 28 varieties of cabbage, 25 varieties of peas, 79 for tomatoes, and just 16 varieties of cucumbers.

In a comparison of seeds offered in commercial seed houses in the early 1900s to the seeds found in the National Seed Storage Laboratory in 1983, researchers found 93 percent of seeds were lost over eight decades

The National Geographic infographic shows just how many varieties of fruits and vegetables appear near extinction. Even more concerning is the fact that the data is already more than 30 years old, and the problem may have gotten even worse since. 

For the record, it’s not only fruits and vegetables that are disappearing. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 plant species are in danger of extinction.

In 1996, there were still about 300 independent seeds companies left in the US. By 2009, there were fewer than 100. With the rise of GM crops and seed patents, meanwhile, the pesticide industry has been snapping up an ever-growing share of the seed industry.  

Just four agrichemical companies own 43 percent of the world’s commercial seed supply, and 10 multinational corporations hold 65 percent of global commercial seed for major crops

According to Philip Howard, an associate professor at Michigan State University:

“The commercial seed industry has undergone tremendous consolidation in the last 40 years as transnational corporations entered this agricultural sector, and acquired or merged with competing firms. 

This trend is associated with impacts that constrain the opportunities for renewable agriculture, such as reductions in seed lines and a declining prevalence of seed saving.”

He further stated,“[t]he Big Six chemical/seed companies [Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, Syngenta, DuPont and BASF] have increased their cross-licensing agreements to share genetically engineered traits, strengthening the barriers to entry for smaller firms that don’t have access to these expensive technologies.”

The Cumberland County Library System in Pennsylvania set up a “seed library” at Mechanicsburg’s Joseph T. Simpson Public Library last year. Locals could borrow heirloom seeds for the growing season and then replace them at the end of the year. The library thought the system would encourage “residents to learn more about growing their own food and acquiring self-sufficiency skills.”

All was well in the community… until the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) sent a letter telling them they were violating the 2004 Seed Act, which regulates the selling of seeds. For good measure, the USDA also sent in a high-ranking official and lawyers to meet with the library. As Global Research reported, the USDA was only doing their job, stopping possible “agri-terrorism” at the hands of community residents planting heirloom tomatoes…

“Feds told the library system that they would have to test each individual seed packet in order for the facility to continue, an impossible task, which meant that the seed library was shut down. Cumberland County Library System Executive Director Jonelle Darr was told that the USDA would, ‘continue to crack down on seed libraries that have established themselves in the state.’ 

Cumberland County Commissioner Barbara Cross applauded the USDA’s decision, warning that allowing residents to borrow seeds could have led to acts of ‘agri-terrorism.’…While the USDA is busy cracking down on local seed libraries in the name of preventing cross-pollination, many accuse the federal agency of being completely in the pocket of biotech giant Monsanto, which itself has been responsible for cross-pollinating farmers’ crops with genetically modified seeds on an industrial scale.”

In reality, “old-fashioned” seed swaps such as the one attempted at the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library are one of the best ways to secure non-GMO, heirloom seeds for your garden. You can try this on your own with friends and neighbors or local gardening clubs. The National Gardening Association, for instance, has an online seed swap that allows you to post either seeds you’d like to share or seeds you’re looking for. It’s a free service and, as they say on their site, “one gardener’s extras are another’s treasures.” If you’re interested in learning more, keep an eye out for the film “Seed: The Untold Story,” which is slated to be released in 2015.

Support Seed Diversity by Ditching GM Food

Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal, matters. It makes a huge difference and can help to protect the future integrity of our food supply. Along those lines, here are seven ways you can take power back from the corporate bullies that are trying to control the food supply:
  1. Stop buying all non-organic processed foods. Instead, build your diet around whole, unprocessed foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats from coconut oilavocados, organic pastured meat, dairy, and eggs, and raw nuts
  2. Buy most of your foods from your local farmer’s market and/or organic farm
  3. Cook most or all your meals at home using whole, organic ingredients
  4. Frequent restaurants that serve organic, cooked-from-scratch, local food. Many restaurants, especially chain restaurants (Chipotlé is a rare exception), use processed foods for their meals
  5. Buy only heirloom, open-pollinated, and/or organic seeds for your garden. This includes both decorative plants and edibles – or get them via seed swaps
  6. Boycott all lawn and garden chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) unless they are “OMRI Approved,” which means they are allowed in organic production. If you use a lawn service, make sure they’re using OMRI Approved products as well
  7. Join the Organic Consumers Association’s new campaign, “Buy Organic Brands that Support Your Right to Know”

The Extinction of Fruits and Vegetables in 80 Years Dr Mercola May 19, 2015

Un luogo per "dare voce al mondo del biologico e alle sue imprese". Duccio Campagnoli, presidente di BolognaFiere, apre così le porte del Biodiversity Park a Expo 2015, area tematica dedicata all'agricoltura biologica e all'agrobiodiversità. Ad inaugurare il parco Vandana Shiva, ecologista indiana e presidente di Navdanyan International, che lo definisce "il posto più importante di Expo" e dice che "è stata una gioia camminare in questa area". 
Attorno al parco della Biodiversità, 8500 metri quadrati di verde dove Shiva ha potuto piantare stamattina semi di okra, zucca e melone, si trovano il padiglione della Mostra della biodiversità, il padiglione del Biologico e il Teatro della terra, un centro convegni che sarà "un luogo d'incontro per chi vorrà discutere di bio", dice il presidente di BolognaFiere.
Secondo Vandana Shiva, "questo è il posto più importante in Expo: tutta l'Esposizione - sottolinea l'ambientalista indiana - dovrebbe essere un 'parco della biodiversità'" perché "la scelta dell’agricoltura biologica è il primo indispensabile passo per restituire fertilità al suolo. E il suo sviluppo su scala mondiale - sottolinea - è necessario dare avvio concretamente a una nuova economia circolare". 
"L’agricoltura biologica - sostiene Vandana Shiva - può fornire risposte assolutamente necessarie al cambiamento climatico in atto, restituendo fertilità ai suoli, immagazzinando i gas serra che stanno distruggendo non il Pianeta, ma la sopravvivenza delle nostre culture e forse della stessa umanità".
Ritornare a una dimensione "familiare" dell'agricoltura può anche essere una opportunità "per fare fronte al cambiamento climatico globale", valorizzare i territori e dare la possibilità di un lavoro creativo ai giovani, in antitesi all'agricoltura industriale. 
'Il biologico salverà il mondo', è la premessa che dà il via al Forum internazionale del biologico. L'obiettivo del Forum "è quello di riunire le organizzazioni del bio, le realtà ambientaliste, del terzo settore, scientifiche, gli agricoltori e le imprese, ma anche i cittadini per dimostrare che il modello agricolo e alimentare biologico è l’innovazione in grado di rispondere alla grande sfida lanciata dall'Esposizione universale".

Vandana Shiva inaugura Biodiversity Park: "E' il posto più importante di Expo" 16/05/2015

Vandana Shiva kicks off Organic Pavilion May 18 2015

Seeds of Death: Unveiling The Lies of GMO's SEPTEMBER 22, 2013

KILLING US SOFTLY APRIL 2, 2015

Manipulate and Mislead Guerra alla Monsanto MARCH 26, 2015

Carbon emissions put sixteen percent of species at risk of extinction May 14, 2015

RACING EXTINCTION March 21, 2015


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