Friday, August 14, 2009

Importance Of Seed Saving To Preserve Our Food Supply

Seed Saving is so important in these times we are living now.

I just watched the documentary 'The Future Of Foods' which is about Genetic Engineered Crops and how the Bio Tech Industry is starting to use unsavory tactics to take control of the seed industry.

It is scary where the bio-tech industry and food politics are leading us to.

I have been worried about genetically engineered foods getting into the food supply for a while, especially since the US Government does not mandate declaration of genetically altered ingredients in the food we are eating. The film was an eye opener how far the industry has already gone. The truth is, with some crops, there is no way knowing if it is in our foods or not. The contamination of fields from genetic engineered crops is widespread. And once a farmers field is contaminated with these genetically altered crops, his whole field can become contaminated through pollination. So it is anybodies guess how much of the genetically altered foods are already in our grocery aisles.

Because companies like Monsanto, which has been the most aggressive company in this new global food fight, have patented not just their engineered seeds, but have also patented components of the engineered plants. They now are able to sue these farmers for stealing their genetics, because their crop has now Monsanto's patented genetics and prevent them from saving their own seeds. Something those farmers and their ancestors probably have done for many generations. Farmers have been selectively saving their seeds to preserve the best adapted seed for their growing environment. It takes decades of hard work to get there and now Monsanto practically can own a farmers livelihood, because now the farmer either has to buy the seeds from these companies or has to start all over with selective seed saving. Which might not even be possible, if Monsanto & Co. bought up the former seed company and now let the open pollinated seeds disappear. Open pollinated seeds don't fit it the profit equation of these Bio Tech companies.

Think about this for a moment. Monsanto contaminates the farmers field, but the farmer gets sued and loses the court case. Where is the justice?

Did you know that 98% of all seeds are now controlled by just a few companies, some of them being Monsanto, DuPont, Mitsui, Aventis, Dow Chemical and Syngent. These companies in the last few years have gobbled up many smaller seed operations, then they got rid of all the open pollinated varieties of those seed companies, because these are not profitable enough for them. Thousands of food varieties have been lost because of this. Then they genetically modified many seeds and got them patented worldwide, so they now control these seeds all over the world. They control the production of these seeds and thus the availability of these seeds. Which also means they control the market and food supply. Scary isn't it?

The original Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970, protected varieties from others’ use for 17 years, but with the exception that farmers were allowed to save seed, replant it, and even sell it to neighbors. Breeders were allowed to use it for research purposes.

But Court decisions in 1980, 1985 and 2001, in favor of Monsanto, brought all products of plant breeding under the standard utility patent. Unlike the Plant Variety Protection Act, utility patents don't protect just finished varieties, they also protect individual components of those varieties and the processes used to create those varieties. No exemptions for farmers to save seed and none for research and breeding have been given.

With these court decisions companies are now allowed to patent DNA sequences, individual mutations, genes, cells, proteins, single nucleotide polymorphisms, tissue cultures and specific plant parts. It used to be that Life forms could not be patented, now they can be.

Plants, which are living forms, which can reproduce themselves through their seeds. The patenting of “intellectual property” to protect a manufacturing product does not really translate well into the improvement of life forms. Improving life forms has typically been the work of farmers, by observing mutations, then selecting seeds or animals for the desired traits. Farmers then were sharing and exchanging seeds to build upon one another’s efforts. Nobody really can own a mutation which occurs freely in nature. Biological heritage used to be held in common. This proprietary model the industry is trying to impose on a product given to us by nature goes against all agricultural traditions.

What happens if animals get contaminated with patented genes? People? Are we on the way to be owned by Corporations?

Monsanto bought out one of the largest Seed companies 'Seminis' in 2005. This gave Monsanto control of more than 30 percent of the North American vegetable seed market, more than 20 percent of the world’s tomato seed market and more than 30 percent of the world hot pepper seed market. Not sure if this has gone through yet, but they either bought or will be buying Netherland's 'De Ruiter Seeds' company with crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, peppers and rootstock for the greenhouse market.

But these are not the only seed companies they bought up, many smaller companies were swallowed in the process of controlling the seed supply.

In 2007 Monsanto formed the International Seed Group Inc (ISG) as a holding company for the company’s growing investments in regional vegetable and fruit seed businesses.

So their seed busines now includes DeRuiter a “protected-culture” vegetable seed market; Seminis, the open-field vegetable seed market; and the International Seed Group, which serves the regional seed businesses.

Monsanto claims their genetically engineered seeds are needed to increase world food production and feed the hungry of this world. But a recent study, which was carried out over three years at the University of Kansas is undermining these repeated claims of the Bio-Tech industry. This study shows that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting their claims. Genetic modification cuts the productivity of crops.
One thing it does, it increases productivity of Monsanto, because not only do they get to sell all the seeds to the farmers but it increases the productivity of Monsanto's chemical divisions. These crops are engineered to be immune to the toxicity of Roundup. Farmers now can spray their fields with Roundup without harming their crops. This naturally translates to more sales of Roundup. And to more toxins sprayed into the environment.

"Bingo"! Isn't that interesting how that works?

So it who does it really benefit? Human kind? Or Monsanto?

But don't despair, these companies only can do what they are doing if we let them. We are not completely powerless.

More on this and what one can do to save our food supply in my next post.


naveed ahmad khan said...

i visit your site n i got more information then other visited last month
was good enough then last what i had gone throught

work and study


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