Manifesto On The Future Of Seeds (11)

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  • Freedom of Farmers to Exchange and Trade Seeds: Since seeds are a “commons”, freedom to exchange seeds among farming communities must be an inalienable part of the law of the seed. This also includes the right to sell and to share seeds on a non-exclusive basis. Any rewards paid for seeds should be calculated as a fraction of the value of the products they yield.
  • Freedom to have access to “open Source” seed: “Open Source” seeds are open pollinated varieties, which can be reproduced from year to year, generation to generation and can be saved and replanted. The knowledge about the information embedded in seeds and germ-plasm is by definition not an invention but the result of cumulative collective discovery upon which additional discoveries may be based in the future. This knowledge must be freely available and should be made accessible to all farmers. The development of seed systems that cannot be reproduced by farmers should not be pursued. Optimum benefits for all are achieved if research and development concentrate on seeds that can be freely reproduced. Public investment should go exclusively into seed systems which entail the full genetic information necessary for their reproduction. Farmers should have access to parent lines used for crossing and creation of hybrids. Hybrids in which parental lines are controlled by corporations lead to homogenization and monopoly ownership.
  • Freedom from Genetic Contamination and GMOʼs: Farmers freedom includes freedom from genetic contamination and biopollution. The introduction of new varieties and plants must take into account the potential environmental risks as well as other potential detrimental agricultural effects. 
  • Freedom of Seed to Reproduce: “Terminator” technology to produce sterile suicide seed that cannot reproduce is an assault to the fundamental nature of seed as the source of reproduction of life and to the fundamental freedom of farmers. The introduction of such traits is designed to create a monopoly on the seed and food of the world and must be banned on a global level. 

III. SEEDS FOR THE FUTURE: BREEDING TOMORROWʼS SEEDS

Seeds embody the past and the future. Seeds for the future have to evolve on the basis of the conservation of the widest seed diversity and crop varieties to manage the multiple challenges of food and nutritional security, food quality, climate change and sustainability. The following are ways in which the conservation, use and further development of seeds can be tailored to meet the challenges ahead. 

  • Community based seed conservation and development: The preservation and maintenance of seed and the knowledge about them should be based and rooted with those who make use of them. Ex-situ and in-situ conservation of germ plasm should be conducted to support essential on-farm maintenance of the seed. Strategies and technologies for the further development of seeds should be based on the wealth of experience and ingenuity of farmers and food-communities in general, and include their participation and active input into the scientific aspects of plant breeding. This includes making available to farming communities modern technologies of selection, identification and breeding.
  • Embedding in agricultural eco-system: As a principle, seed varieties should allow farmers to conserve soil, water and biodiversity and smartly adapt to local and regional environmental conditions rather than require the adaptation of the environment to the needs of the seed. The goal of future use and development of seeds should be the embedding of agricultural production into agro-eco-systems to protect soil, water and biodiversity and increase resilience to environmental change.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions: In order to minimize the emission of greenhouse gases that are leading to climatic chaos, seeds should not require more external input of energy (through synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fuel) than absolutely necessary. The goal should be greenhouse emission neutral agricultural practices, that rely on renewable energy and on soil-biological resources.

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