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.

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.

The struggle against IPR in the Andes

In Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, initiatives have been taken recently that raise hopes that mechanisms might be created to stop the further privatisation of knowledge and life. So far, progress has been disappointing, with fundamental problems remaining unsolved. Once again, it is up to local people to defend knowledge and biodiveristy against destruction and privatisation.

In Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, initiatives have been taken recently that raise hopes that mechanisms might be created to stop the further privatisation of knowledge and life. So far, progress has been disappointing, with fundamental problems remaining unsolved. Once again, it is up to local people to defend knowledge and biodiveristy against destruction and privatisation.

Whose harvest? The politics of organic seed certification

Millions of farmers around the world practice organic agriculture and over a billion people get most of their food from these farms. Currently only a small portion of what they produce is labeled as certified organic, but the global market for such foods is growing. While some believe that certification is needed to create market opportunities for small farmers others fear that existing systems are doing the reverse -- setting the stage for agribusiness to take over. Now these tensions are coming to a head with seeds. Today, new regulations governing seeds in organic farming, more attuned to the needs of seed corporations than seed savers, are popping up everywhere, with potentially devastating consequences for farmer seed systems. This Briefing provides the first global overview of regulations concerning seeds in organic farming and assesses what such regulations mean to the future of organic farming and the millions of farmers who sustain it.

Millions of farmers around the world practice organic agriculture and over a billion people get most of their food from these farms. Currently only a small portion of what they produce is labeled as certified organic, but the global market for such foods is growing. While some believe that certification is needed to create market opportunities for small farmers others fear that existing systems are doing the reverse -- setting the stage for agribusiness to take over. Now these tensions are coming to a head with seeds. Today, new regulations governing seeds in organic farming, more attuned to the needs of seed corporations than seed savers, are popping up everywhere, with potentially devastating consequences for farmer seed systems. This Briefing provides the first global overview of regulations concerning seeds in organic farming and assesses what such regulations mean to the future of organic farming and the millions of farmers who sustain it.

A new Green Revolution for Africa?

For some time now, there's been talk of a new Green Revolution for Africa – because "Africa missed the first Green Revolution" or because "the first Green Revolution missed Africa". Now a new project, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), is trying to put the concept into operation. This paper aims to describe what a Green Revolution really signifies, why such projects haven't worked before and why AGRA won't work either, in order to help people trying to take positions at the local, national and regional levels.

For some time now, there's been talk of a new Green Revolution for Africa – because "Africa missed the first Green Revolution" or because "the first Green Revolution missed Africa". Now a new project, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), is trying to put the concept into operation. This paper aims to describe what a Green Revolution really signifies, why such projects haven't worked before and why AGRA won't work either, in order to help people trying to take positions at the local, national and regional levels.

Japan digs its claws into biodiversity through FTAs

Japan is increasingly using free trade agreements (FTAs) to tighten corporate control over seeds and other forms of biodiversity that are crucial to food, agriculture and medicine. Two such deals, sealed this month with the Chilean and Indonesian governments, put Japan in the big league of nations using bilateral trade deals to make seed-saving on the farm a thing of the past.

Japan is increasingly using free trade agreements (FTAs) to tighten corporate control over seeds and other forms of biodiversity that are crucial to food, agriculture and medicine. Two such deals, sealed this month with the Chilean and Indonesian governments, put Japan in the big league of nations using bilateral trade deals to make seed-saving on the farm a thing of the past.

The end of farm-saved seed? Industry's wish list for the next revision of UPOV

The big players in the world seed industry are grumbling about loopholes in the plant variety protection system, which was the alternative to patenting that they set up in the 1960s. The Europeans want to get rid of farmers’ limited entitlement to save seed. The Americans want to restrict the exemption by which breeders have the free use of each other’s commercial varieties for research purposes. In both cases, the point is to reduce competition and boost profits. In the short term, the victims will be farmers, who will probably end up paying the seed giants an additional US$7 billion each year. But in the long run, we will all lose from the growing corporate stranglehold over our food systems. This briefing traces the recent discussions within the seed industry and explores what will happen if a plant variety right becomes virtually indistinguishable from a patent.

The big players in the world seed industry are grumbling about loopholes in the plant variety protection system, which was the alternative to patenting that they set up in the 1960s. The Europeans want to get rid of farmers’ limited entitlement to save seed. The Americans want to restrict the exemption by which breeders have the free use of each other’s commercial varieties for research purposes. In both cases, the point is to reduce competition and boost profits. In the short term, the victims will be farmers, who will probably end up paying the seed giants an additional US$7 billion each year. But in the long run, we will all lose from the growing corporate stranglehold over our food systems. This briefing traces the recent discussions within the seed industry and explores what will happen if a plant variety right becomes virtually indistinguishable from a patent.