There is a clear relation between increases in investments in the digitalization of seed information at the DNA and genomic level, and a parallel decrease in investments in on-field research and the development and maintenance of holistic research and knowledge of seed and seed varieties in different ecosystems.
- Crop genetic resources are disappearing at the rate of 1-2 percent per annum (UN Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, Development Education Exchange Papers, September 1993). About 75 percent of the diversity of agricultural crops is estimated to have been lost since the beginning of the last century.
- Stated in the Leipzig Global plan of Action on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, 1995, based on 158 country reports and 12 regional and sub-regional papers.
- FAO Leipzig conference on Plant Genetic Resources, 1996.
Part Two: A NEW PARADIGM FOR SEED
The failures, limitations and vulnerability of industrial agriculture and corporate monopolies must be taken into account in a post-industrial concept of seed and food production, a concept that should be based upon holistic, long-term considerations, considerations that present-day industrial agricultural systems, that produce for a global market, by their very nature are unable to take into account.
Seed diversity can be saved only if the livelihoods of small farmers who save and use biodiversity are protected. Biodiversity based farming systems generate more employment, produce more nutrition and better quality food and provide higher incomes to farming families and communities. The challenge of agriculture must no longer be to produce huge quantities of nutritionally unbalanced food, but rather to produce nutritionally balanced food in a sustainable way. A sustainable agriculture maintains the natural resources needed, preserves the communities and social and cultural systems that allow for the appropriate distribution of food, and provides the possibility of decent livelihoods in rural areas.
The one dimensional focus on ʼyieldʼ has led to a serious decline in systems productivity, food quality and nutrition. Quantity must give way to quality. Seed production by Food Communities is based on a holistic concept of food quality that considers taste, compatibilities with human physiological and cultural conditions, all aspects of nutritional properties, the degree of biodiversity present, the environmental impact of production, as well as the working conditions, processes of participation and value of retribution to producers.
This holistic concept should be the first step towards reinforcing or creating and dispersing seeds for quality food systems. The monoculture paradigm must give way to a flourishing biodiversity paradigm. Any future concept of agricultural production must anticipate and take into account the change in climatic conditions and urgently introduce stringent measures to further reduce CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions – with the hope of preventing unsustainable consequences.