Conservation programme fights for seed freedom

Seed Freedom Fortnight will raise awareness of the issues facing farmers in India

A fortnight in October has been dedicated to raising awareness of the concerns surrounding genetically modified seeds.

Seed Freedom Fortnight has been organised by non-government organisation (NGO) Navdanya, which means ‘nine crops’. Navdanya is a biodiversity conservation programme that supports local farmers affected by seed monopolies, and conserves crops which, the organisation claims, are being pushed to extinction due to genetic modification.

According to Navdanya: “Seed is owned by farmers who sowed, bread, saved and exchanged it for thousands of years. Sadly, the arrival of commercial seed industries changed the whole picture. Multinational corporations have successfully taken away the ownership of seeds from the hands of the farmers in the form of patents.”

As patents grant exclusive rights to inventors to make and sell a product, companies owning patents to seeds prevent farmers from growing, saving or exchanging seeds, activities which often form the basis of their livelihoods.

As Navdanya states: “Seed is not an invention. Seed is constantly creating and recreating itself. To treat seed as a corporate invention and grant corporations patents on seed violates ethics or patent law itself.”

The NGO says that more than 250,000 farmers in India have committed suicide as a result on farming constraints imposed by seed patents and monopolies.

Navdanya’s Seed Freedom Fortnight will run from 2 October until World Food Day on 16 October, and will see a number of activities designed to raise awareness of the seed issues facing farmers in India and around the world.

Events will kick off with the worldwide launch of the Global Citizen’s Report on Seed Freedom, which has been jointly prepared by over 100 groups and organisations. Rallies and protests are also planned, as well as global events at grassroots level.

The Fortnight’s organisers are encouraging activists to get involved with campaigning activities, spread awareness and sign up to become a Seed Defender in order to protect “the essence that affects all life on earth and every human being.”