Why can't we choose between many different varieties of pears, tomatoes or other fruits and vegetables when we go to the supermarket while local farmers market are a feast of diversity? Are farmers allowed to select the plants they cultivate? Is it only a matter of market preferences? These are some of the questions behind SEEDcontrol project.
Selection, production, multiplication and distribution of seeds is highly regulated in the EU and US and these regulation extend to the global market. Farmers who intend to sell on national and international scale may use only commercial, certified seeds, listed in catalogues and protected by ‘plant variety rights’, aka patents. Decades ago there were hundreds of seed producers in the world.
Not anymore. Seed industries have undergone a strong concentration process. Today less than 10 corporations share 75% of this market. Since 2000 the top firms have acquired more than 70 companies. Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta control over 50% of the world market. And Monsanto is currently negotiating the acquisition of Syngenta. The recent surge in patent applications is yet another clear symptom of the interest of big companies to control the entire market, leaving small players out.
The consequences are price surges, loss of diversity, strong preference towards high yield and hi-tech varieties. In short, the keys of the global food security, seeds, are in the hands of a bunch of big transnational corporations. Which sometimes stretch to illegally collecting and patenting local traditional seeds, an act termed biopiracy.
SEEDcontrol will start from stories of farmers, small seed producers and consumers who cannot understand why we are forced to pick amongst few varieties when we could have a great diversity of fruits, vegetables and cereals.
Photo copyright: Hafiz Rakib via Flickr Creative Commons.
- Oxpeckers: In a time of hunger, SA is losing its real gold (EN )
- The Huffington Post: How The Not-So-Free Seed Market Affects Small Farmers (EN )
- The Huffington Post: A Dummy's Guide: Why Farmers Can't Afford The Seeds To Grow Your Food (EN )
- La Stampa (IT )