the right to breed and exchange diverse open source seeds which can be saved and which are not patented, genetically modified, owned or controlled.
seeds are ours - yours, mine, ours - passed on from our ancestors for millennia, they are in our dna, having reached us through the endless cyclic rhythms of nature.
why should it be any other way?
during the 1950s and 1960s, the global population was growing exponentially. to meet the nutritional needs of many millions of hungry mouths, farmers looked for ways to increase their outputs.
the answer was the green revolution, a wave of agricultural innovations. for seed, this meant hybrid (cross-bred) varieties, to produce higher yields, resist pesticides and for better storage. the short term benefits - higher, more reliable yields - were obvious.
but the other side effects that have played out over time are less positive; a reduction in the number of farms, those that remain have grown larger and have changed from rotational to monocropping. in addition to this, and most criminally, seeds were patented, their dna effectively becoming 'owned' by big agribusiness. for these hybrid varieties, farmers were no longer allowed to breed and save seed. some have even been prosecuted for doing so.
agricultural biodiversity, what was available on our farms and in our fields, has decreased dramatically. in the last 100 years, we have lost 93% of our seed diversity.
and the hunger the green revolution aimed to resolve? it still exists and, in many cases, is worsening. food insecurity, micronutrient deficiencies and unequal access to food - all are 21st century issues.
add agricultural policies, farm subsidies, food aid and false economies and things are not looking good for seed.
why save seed?
corporate interests did not create seeds and cannot claim ownership over something so vital for survival.
saving seed is a political act. it is a reclamation of our past, present and future, back in the hands of the people, where they belong. the concept allows free exchange. growers can test, learn and grow the varieties that are best suited to them and their environment, year after year. as the saved seeds are not hybrids, the grower saves and retains them again and again.
seeds and plants adapt to their growing environment over time, through natural selection. as the grower selects seed from the healthiest, most virulent plants each year, this adaption becomes stronger, the seeds saved more able to cope with pests, disease and changing weather patterns. it also allows us to preserve traditional and indigenous seed varieties.
seed networks and living seed banks like the Seed Saving Network are a way of collecting seeds to preserve them for the future. as our climate changes and we continue to modify the environments around us, we need to prepare for these changes by learning which plants work best for both human needs, and the needs of the earth. we also want to enrich agricultural biodiversity which supports the entire ecosystem, including insect life and soil health, both of which have suffered in the last century.
so join us in saving seeds. the power is in our hands.