The obvious people's right to keep and exchange their own seeds is threatened by multinational companies and the restrictive legislation. Multinational seed producing companies and agro- industries, covered behind the mask of humanism, are striving to prevail in seed trade. In Brussels, where decisions are taken regarding Common Agriculture Policy in the EU, a lot of industry/biotechnology lobbies crowd, putting strong pressure in order to influence law making for their own benefit. Some of those lobbies are: “European Seed Association” (ESA), “Europa-Bio”, Monsanto, which controls 95% of other companies, Bayer, BASF. The Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) are investigating and denouncing those lobbies actions. More info at: www.corporateeurope.org/blog/biotech-lobby-brochure-launched-demo.
Legislation regarding seeds
Unfortunately, European Directives neither facilitate nor promote biodiversity. On the contrary, they guarantee that seed industries will control 90% of the seed market.
More at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu
However, all people should be self-reliable and have free access to seeds. More and more people realise that and take an interest in agriculture, gardening and self-sufficiency projects. More and more people think of ways to regain control in food supply in order to become independent from industrialised food production. More and more people realise how important it is to maintain biodiversity not only in their country but in the whole planet as well, and seeds to reach their children. The above have led to the creation of initiatives, organisations and social networks which bring together cultivators and farmers, professionals or amateurs, collective, or... balcony gardeners who grow free reproduced varieties. In addition, a continuously developing international movement for Seed Sovereignty and Food Independence displays rich action in seed saving and exchange.
European initiatives for keeping diversity.
ARCHENOAH in Austria, PROSPECIERARA in Switzerland, VERN, VEN and DRESCFEGEL in Germany, PELITI and AEGILOPS in Greece.
Seed Campaign (www.seed-sovereignty.org)
The European community Longo Mai. This community consists of 10 cooperatives in 5 european countries.
The BUKO campaign against Biopiracy, in Germany (www.biopiraterie.de)
The Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)( www.corporateeurope.org)
IFOAM in Brussels(www.ifoam.org)
Kokopelli in France ( www.kokopelli.asso.fr)
Seedy Sunday in England (www.seedysunday.org)
The International Gardens in Germany (www.internationale-gaerten.de)
The Intercultural Foundation in Germany (www.stiftung-interkultur.de)
Regarding its phytogenetic resources, Greece is ranked 2nd richer European country in biodiversity (Spain is the 1st) with a huge number of endemic species. The state supported the saving of phytogenetic material by founding the Bank of Genetic Material a few decades ago.(www.cerealinstitute.gr and www.save-foundation.net). The bank is estimated to have 14.500 different species, a number relevantly low compared to the species existing in the very old days. However, only 1% of cultivated land in Greece is planted with local grain and vegetable species!!
Today, because of lack of funding and scientific personnel, 5.000 species out of the 14.500 in the Bank have got lost and this is a problem faced also by other foundations for the maintenance of phytogenetic resources in our country. On the other hand, the official legislation, following EU Directives, forbids sowing self-produced seeds and impels farmers to sow certain certified seed varieties.
Luckily, contrary to official legislation and market trends, there is an increasingly developing determination among people to resist to multinational companies and save agriculture heritage, so a lot of individuals, producers unions, social or political groups form networks and organise events for seed exchange, species saving, food sufficiency, new agro-collectivism and eco-community formation.
The Greek networks (“Seedsavers”)
The “Peliti” network which organises a popular festival every year, which lots of seedsavers from all over the world participate in. Peliti gathers and registers local seeds. It also registers gardeners of those seeds. (www.peliti.gr)
The “Aegilops” network for Biodiversity and Ecological Agriculture. They focus on wheat varieties and the scientific approach for saving biodiversity.(www.aegilops.gr)
The “Archipelago”, an environmental NGO with an extended seed bank from the Aegean islands varieties (www.archipelago.gr)
The “ΜΑΙΧ” foundation in Crete with a well organised seed bank.
The above networks make hard efforts to reduce the influence of seed industries at decision making centres and at the same time they try to join their voices at a national and international level.
How and where to find seeds.
From seed saving initiatives and networks, small farmers, neighbours. Organise exchanges, festivals, find out which species grow in your area. The more seed exchanges we organise, the less we will depend on multinational companies. Invite experts for presentations, show a film, organise an exhibition, practical workshops for seed production and group planting, exchange knowledge, ask for information at gardening pavilions. Become seedsavers of varieties which are in danger of disappearing.