Seeds

The 'seeds issue' was what got GRAIN started almost 30 years ago, and it is still a central area of work for us. The biodiversity in farmers' fields is eroding at alarming rates, while the corporate seed sector is reaching unprecedented levels of control through the push for hybrids, genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and concentration. Across the world, governments are promoting or allowing restrictive seed and intellectual property laws that grant exclusive power to the corporate sector while limiting the possibilities of small farmers to save, exchange and further develop their own varieties. But equally all over the world, social movements are sprouting up and growing to challenge these developments and establish networks to conserve and use local materials. 

This programme area allows GRAIN to be part of this movement and contribute with research and information work, as well as capacity and movement building support.

New leaked chapter of Asia trade deal shows RCEP will undercut farmers’ control over seeds

Ever since the ink dried on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), people have become aware of another mega-trade deal being negotiated behind closed doors in the Asia-Pacific region. Like the TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) threatens to increase corporate power in member countries, leaving ordinary people with little recourse to assert their rights to things like land, safe food, life-saving medicines and seeds.

Ever since the ink dried on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), people have become aware of another mega-trade deal being negotiated behind closed doors in the Asia-Pacific region. Like the TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) threatens to increase corporate power in member countries, leaving ordinary people with little recourse to assert their rights to things like land, safe food, life-saving medicines and seeds.

New mega-treaty in the pipeline: what does RCEP mean for farmers’ seeds in Asia?

In February 2016, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a controversial new trade agreement covering 12 countries of the Asia-Pacific region, was signed in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The result of a US-driven process, the agreement aims to boost trade and investment among a select group of countries—excluding China. The TPP will have a major impact on farmers’ access to and control over seeds. But there is another “mega” trade deal sneaking into Asia: the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). In this report, GRAIN looks at what RCEP might mean for farmers’ seeds in the region, in the context of the recently signed TPP.

In February 2016, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a controversial new trade agreement covering 12 countries of the Asia-Pacific region, was signed in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The result of a US-driven process, the agreement aims to boost trade and investment among a select group of countries—excluding China. The TPP will have a major impact on farmers’ access to and control over seeds. But there is another “mega” trade deal sneaking into Asia: the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). In this report, GRAIN looks at what RCEP might mean for farmers’ seeds in the region, in the context of the recently signed TPP.

About genetically modified organisms (available in local African languages)

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an animal, plant or micro-organism that has been modified in the laboratory by adding or subtracting a gene such that a given characteristic—which was not present before—is expressed. The example closest to us is Bt cotton. 

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an animal, plant or micro-organism that has been modified in the laboratory by adding or subtracting a gene such that a given characteristic—which was not present before—is expressed. The example closest to us is Bt cotton. 

Seeds in the hands of farmers

In this video, Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN contrasts the approaches to seed conservation that have emerged since the so-called ‘green revolution’. He advocates for on-farm, farmer-led conservation which secures the control of seed in the hands of small farmers.

In this video, Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN contrasts the approaches to seed conservation that have emerged since the so-called ‘green revolution’. He advocates for on-farm, farmer-led conservation which secures the control of seed in the hands of small farmers.

Argentina: New “national” GMOs. Resistance multiplies.

The government of Argentina has announced with great fanfare the introduction of new GMOs allegedly different from the existing ones in three ways: 1) the transgenes do not code for herbicide resistance or production of the Bt toxin; 2) some of them are claimed to promise yield increases, and 3) they have not been developed by corporations but by universities and public research institutes. These, however, are pretexts under which to continue imposing the same agribusiness model on our country.  

The government of Argentina has announced with great fanfare the introduction of new GMOs allegedly different from the existing ones in three ways: 1) the transgenes do not code for herbicide resistance or production of the Bt toxin; 2) some of them are claimed to promise yield increases, and 3) they have not been developed by corporations but by universities and public research institutes. These, however, are pretexts under which to continue imposing the same agribusiness model on our country.  

UPOV 91 and other seed laws: a basic primer on how companies intend to control and monopolise seeds

All over the world, farmer’s seeds and seed systems are under attack. Corporations are pushing for ever more aggressive new laws and regulations that criminalise farmers for sowing, keeping, exchanging, and taking care of their seeds. If companies get their way, farmers around the world will face the possibility of being jailed or harshly fined for doing what they have been doing over centuries. This primer is meant to further explain how farmers are affected by seed laws, illustrated with extracts from legislation from a variety of countries.

All over the world, farmer’s seeds and seed systems are under attack. Corporations are pushing for ever more aggressive new laws and regulations that criminalise farmers for sowing, keeping, exchanging, and taking care of their seeds. If companies get their way, farmers around the world will face the possibility of being jailed or harshly fined for doing what they have been doing over centuries. This primer is meant to further explain how farmers are affected by seed laws, illustrated with extracts from legislation from a variety of countries.

Seed laws that criminalise farmers: resistance and fightback

Seeds are under attack everywhere. Under corporate pressure, laws in many countries increasingly put limitations on what farmers can do with their seeds and with the seeds they buy. Seed saving, a thousand-year-old practice which forms the basis of farming, is fast becoming criminalised. What can we do about this?

Seeds are under attack everywhere. Under corporate pressure, laws in many countries increasingly put limitations on what farmers can do with their seeds and with the seeds they buy. Seed saving, a thousand-year-old practice which forms the basis of farming, is fast becoming criminalised. What can we do about this?

Infographic: Stop seed laws that criminalise farmers & defend local seeds!

Seeds are under attack everywhere. Under corporate pressure, laws in many countries increasingly put limitations on what farmers can do with their seeds and with the seeds they buy. Seed saving, a thousand-year-old practice which forms the basis of farming, is fast becoming criminalised. What can we do about this?

Seeds are under attack everywhere. Under corporate pressure, laws in many countries increasingly put limitations on what farmers can do with their seeds and with the seeds they buy. Seed saving, a thousand-year-old practice which forms the basis of farming, is fast becoming criminalised. What can we do about this?

Seed laws that criminalise farmers: poster, map, tables and additional country cases

Seeds are the basis of productive, social and cultural processes that give rural people the ability to maintain a degree of autonomy and to refuse to be completely controlled by big business and big money. For the corporate interests that are striving to take control of land, farming, food and the huge market that these represent, this independence is an obstacle.

Seeds are the basis of productive, social and cultural processes that give rural people the ability to maintain a degree of autonomy and to refuse to be completely controlled by big business and big money. For the corporate interests that are striving to take control of land, farming, food and the huge market that these represent, this independence is an obstacle.

Seed laws that criminalise farmers: additional country experiences

Peasant seeds – the pillar of food production – are under attack everywhere. Under corporate pressure, laws in many countries increasingly limit what farmers can do with their seeds. These additional country experiences further illustrate the attacks on seeds – and popular resistance – around the world as described in the booklet, "Seed laws that criminalise farmers: resistance and fightback".

Peasant seeds – the pillar of food production – are under attack everywhere. Under corporate pressure, laws in many countries increasingly limit what farmers can do with their seeds. These additional country experiences further illustrate the attacks on seeds – and popular resistance – around the world as described in the booklet, "Seed laws that criminalise farmers: resistance and fightback".

Golden Rice is unnecessary and dangerous

With inexpensive Vitamin A abundantly available from various natural sources, it is a mistake to turn blindly to Golden Rice, a crop that the International Rice Research Institute itself admits it has not yet determined can actually improve vitamin A intake. Farmers and civil society organisations strongly denounce the Golden Rice Campaign Tour planned for the Philippines, Bangladesh, and India from 4-20  March 2015 and continue to call for the defence of traditional and farmer-bred crop varieties and the prohibition of the commercialisation of Golden Rice.

With inexpensive Vitamin A abundantly available from various natural sources, it is a mistake to turn blindly to Golden Rice, a crop that the International Rice Research Institute itself admits it has not yet determined can actually improve vitamin A intake. Farmers and civil society organisations strongly denounce the Golden Rice Campaign Tour planned for the Philippines, Bangladesh, and India from 4-20  March 2015 and continue to call for the defence of traditional and farmer-bred crop varieties and the prohibition of the commercialisation of Golden Rice.

Land and seed laws under attack: who is pushing changes in Africa?

The lobby to industrialise food production in Africa is changing seed and land laws across the continent to serve agribusiness corporations. The end goal is to turn what has long been held as a commons into a marketable commodity that the private sector can control and extract profit from at the expense of small holder farmers and communities.

The lobby to industrialise food production in Africa is changing seed and land laws across the continent to serve agribusiness corporations. The end goal is to turn what has long been held as a commons into a marketable commodity that the private sector can control and extract profit from at the expense of small holder farmers and communities.

Trade deals criminalise farmers' seeds

All around the world, the basic practice of saving seeds from one season to the next is being turned into a criminal offence, so that half a dozen large multinational corporations can turn seeds into private property and make money from them. GRAIN has just produced an updated dataset tracking how free trade agreements are privatising seeds across the world.

All around the world, the basic practice of saving seeds from one season to the next is being turned into a criminal offence, so that half a dozen large multinational corporations can turn seeds into private property and make money from them. GRAIN has just produced an updated dataset tracking how free trade agreements are privatising seeds across the world.

Red alert! GMO avalanche in Mexico

Mexico is the world centre of origin and diversification of maize, one of four crucial food crops in world agriculture. Now the future of this crop is being put at grave risk by the impending approval of commercial planting of genetically engineered (GE) maize on 2.4 million ha in Mexico. What is being prepared is nothing less than a frontal attack on a crop that is vital to the survival of humanity and on the peoples who have stewarded it for millennia. This report discusses the situation and it connections to ongoing struggles in Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay.

Mexico is the world centre of origin and diversification of maize, one of four crucial food crops in world agriculture. Now the future of this crop is being put at grave risk by the impending approval of commercial planting of genetically engineered (GE) maize on 2.4 million ha in Mexico. What is being prepared is nothing less than a frontal attack on a crop that is vital to the survival of humanity and on the peoples who have stewarded it for millennia. This report discusses the situation and it connections to ongoing struggles in Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay.

GM in the public eye in Asia

Public is meant to be for people. But, as in evident with Bt crop research in Asia, “public” agricultural research is becoming less about the needs of ordinary people and small farmers and more about scientific control and corporate interests. The recent controversy around Bt brinjal/eggplant in parts of South and South-east Asia, together with the Bt rice research in China's public sector, show that governments and corporations, be they in competition or co-operation, are pushing the same GM crops into Asia's farms and food supply. This is decisively changing the perception of public agricultural research. People are realising that their public agricultural universities and national research institutes may not really be on their side.

Public is meant to be for people. But, as in evident with Bt crop research in Asia, “public” agricultural research is becoming less about the needs of ordinary people and small farmers and more about scientific control and corporate interests. The recent controversy around Bt brinjal/eggplant in parts of South and South-east Asia, together with the Bt rice research in China's public sector, show that governments and corporations, be they in competition or co-operation, are pushing the same GM crops into Asia's farms and food supply. This is decisively changing the perception of public agricultural research. People are realising that their public agricultural universities and national research institutes may not really be on their side.