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.

Trade agreements that impact seed laws in Africa

The autonomy of African states on seed policy is limited by trade deals, such as free trade agreements or investment treaties, signed by States. Certainly, in principle, each country has sovereignty to sign or not sign these agreements. But they are very often forced to conclude them for financial, geopolitical, security or other reasons. GRAIN published a baseline study of these agreements, either signed or in the process of being negotiated, in June 2016 (see “Trade agreements that privatise biodiversity outside the WTO, Annex 1”). Today, what is the situation?

The autonomy of African states on seed policy is limited by trade deals, such as free trade agreements or investment treaties, signed by States. Certainly, in principle, each country has sovereignty to sign or not sign these agreements. But they are very often forced to conclude them for financial, geopolitical, security or other reasons. GRAIN published a baseline study of these agreements, either signed or in the process of being negotiated, in June 2016 (see “Trade agreements that privatise biodiversity outside the WTO, Annex 1”). Today, what is the situation?

20 years of GM soy in the Southern Cone of Latin America, 20 reasons for a definitive ban

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) has just published its annual report, which confirms that the Southern Cone of Latin America is the region of the world producing the largest quantity of GMOs and having the largest land area under a single monoculture (over 54 million hectares of GM soy in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and southern Bolivia).

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) has just published its annual report, which confirms that the Southern Cone of Latin America is the region of the world producing the largest quantity of GMOs and having the largest land area under a single monoculture (over 54 million hectares of GM soy in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and southern Bolivia).

Trade deals threaten peasant farmers' stewardship of seed biodiversity

Skillful selection and nurturing of the seeds best suited to a particular location are at the heart of peasant farming and agroforestry systems. The resulting agrobiodiversity of hundreds of thousands of crop varieties and animal races found in peasants’ fields around the globe provides the corner stone of the world’s food system. Peasant farmers and the local varieties that they developed are still feeding the majority of us. By contrast, industrial agriculture dominated by a small number of transnational corporations has drastically reduced the agrobiodiversity of crop varieties grown. It has also encroached rapidly on the land that peasant farmers rely on to produce food and on peasants’ access to the diversity of seeds which forms the basis of peasant farming and agroforesty systems.

Skillful selection and nurturing of the seeds best suited to a particular location are at the heart of peasant farming and agroforestry systems. The resulting agrobiodiversity of hundreds of thousands of crop varieties and animal races found in peasants’ fields around the globe provides the corner stone of the world’s food system. Peasant farmers and the local varieties that they developed are still feeding the majority of us. By contrast, industrial agriculture dominated by a small number of transnational corporations has drastically reduced the agrobiodiversity of crop varieties grown. It has also encroached rapidly on the land that peasant farmers rely on to produce food and on peasants’ access to the diversity of seeds which forms the basis of peasant farming and agroforesty systems.

New trade deals legalise corporate theft, make farmers’ seeds illegal

Since 2001, GRAIN has been tracking how so-called free trade agreements (FTAs), negotiated largely in secret, outside the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are being used to go beyond existing international standards on the patenting of life forms. In this report, we provide an update on the FTAs that are legalising corporate theft and threatening farmers’ ability to save, produce and exchange seeds around the world. The report includes two updated datasets on "FTAs privatising biodiversity outside the WTO" and the "Status of countries in terms of joining various seed-related treaties". 

Since 2001, GRAIN has been tracking how so-called free trade agreements (FTAs), negotiated largely in secret, outside the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are being used to go beyond existing international standards on the patenting of life forms. In this report, we provide an update on the FTAs that are legalising corporate theft and threatening farmers’ ability to save, produce and exchange seeds around the world. The report includes two updated datasets on "FTAs privatising biodiversity outside the WTO" and the "Status of countries in terms of joining various seed-related treaties". 

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.