Seedling is ten years old! Special anniversary issue

by GRAIN | 28 Feb 1993


This is not an ordinary issue of Seedling. But we decided to produce it in the ordinary spirit of Seedling: to inform and share, bring new people into the struggle for better genetic resources management and keep old-timers up to date. Rather than focus on the most recent developments in people's work with genetic diversity -- the foundation of food and farmer security -- we have decided to look back and reflect collectively over what has happened over the past ten years. While NGOs hardly have the time or reason to get nostalgic, our ostensible excuse to stop rushing into the future for a moment is a simple one. Seedling is ten years old.

The anniversary could have easily gone unnoticed. And it's not even a real one. We simply realised amidst the fanfare filling 1992 and ravaging our office -- from UNCED to the Barcelona Olympics -- that the first issue of Seedling we have on file at GRAIN dates from 1982. So we decided to call it a birthday.

No reason to throw a party, though. Our review of the past decade, which was tough to do in such a short space, shows us one thing: while it's great that many more people are actively involved in the practical and political work to keep our genetic heritage alive and kicking for the benefit of the people who nurtured it in the first place, the forces working against this endeavour are formidable and have grown stronger as well. Powerful technologies protected by powerful legislation are being developed to cater to the interests of mighty economic fortresses, not the legitimate needs and rights of the poor. We hope, nevertheless, that our review helps people situate how far we have come and how much more creative work we need to carry out together to ensure food security and a more just role for local people in regaining control over the "seeds of the earth".

To broaden our thinking on the past ten years, we also sat down with Pat Mooney, the original founder of Seedling. Pat is an old friend and many of our readers are familiar with his excellent research work on genetic resources and biotechnology, produced with his cohorts from RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International). Most people, however, surely don 't know that GRAIN and RAFI share the same institutional roots: both got their start in, and grew out of, the ICDA Seeds Campaign. Pat's personal account of what has happened over the past ten years add a colourful insider's view to how we have lived -- and survived -- the challenges and changes to this ongoing struggle.

We hope you don 't mind this break from a normal Seedling, usually devoted to news and innovative analysis. But we thought the ten year mark was a good opportunity to look back, catch up and get armed to forge ahead.

Author: GRAIN