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Die Saatgut-Retter

The saviors of the seeds
2013 | 52 min | Recommended min. age: 16 y

In only 100 years, over 75 percent of biodiversity has been lost due to monocultural cultivation. This is why the shelves of all supermarkets are filled with the same types of fruits and vegetables. The seed companies breed crops farmers have to buy new after each harvest every year. Farmers and scientists however started fighting for the preservation of biodiversity across Europe.

The seed market is highly competitive. Five large-scale corporations, most of them from the chemical sector, dominate the production in Europe, generating billions of dollars. They breed types of grains that need agricultural chemistry and have to be bought new after every harvest. In fact, those having the seed, have the say. Now, farmers, breeders, and scientists however take joint action against the trend towards uniformity and stand up for the richness of our food, which threatens to disappear. Not only they call to take take action and demand a different agri-food system, but they also save and multiply old crops, breed new crops and renew what threatens to disappear: the farmers’ seeds.

This is new in science. To date, researchers focused almost exclusively on high-tech laboratory breeding, which brought the seed industry exclusive rights on marketing due to variety protection and patents. Scientists gradually discovered that our food system is one of the major causes of climate change, extinction of species, water scarcity and environmental pollution. They see the need for crops with a large genetic diversity and show that we need environmentally friendly crops that are resilient and adaptable. As in the old days, farmers could resow these seeds and wouldn’t depend on seed companies anymore. However, the law of seeding prohibits selling or trading the farmers’ breedings. It privileges the corporations’ genetically unified crops.

And soon things could get worse: the EU is currently revising the law of seeding. Influenced by the lobbyists of the corporations, the EU could pass a law which leads to a renewed strengthening of the seeds industry; this gives rise to concerns. Medium-sized companies, especially in the organic sector, could be deprived of their means of existence. Politicians now have to take up their responsibility.

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