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 deals pushing UPOV: an interactive map

A new map based on GRAIN’s dataset of signed FTAs in the past 20 years can help visualise which countries use free trade deals to push corporate control over seeds and which countries are under attack from these trade deals.

A new map based on GRAIN’s dataset of signed FTAs in the past 20 years can help visualise which countries use free trade deals to push corporate control over seeds and which countries are under attack from these trade deals.

Booklet | UPOV: the great seeds robbery

Peasants around the world are understanding what is at stake. The big companies and powerful governments that support UPOV, even with all their power, do not have it easy. Popular resistance is emerging everywhere. The following booklet explains in more detail what we are talking about.

Peasants around the world are understanding what is at stake. The big companies and powerful governments that support UPOV, even with all their power, do not have it easy. Popular resistance is emerging everywhere. The following booklet explains in more detail what we are talking about.

UPOV animation: The great seed robbery

To help you understand UPOV, we have a short animated video for you. It explains in a simple way how UPOV tries to appropriate and privatise seeds that have been developed over thousands of years by communities around the world, and why we should resist it and demand that it be dismantled.

To help you understand UPOV, we have a short animated video for you. It explains in a simple way how UPOV tries to appropriate and privatise seeds that have been developed over thousands of years by communities around the world, and why we should resist it and demand that it be dismantled.

To care for our seeds

A set of booklets that can help us understand what is behind the resolve to instate intellectual property and the privatization of seeds through pacts, conventions, agreements, laws, standards, norms, registries, and certifications; why so much effort is invested in pushing aside what has been humanity’s fundamental task for thousands of years.

A set of booklets that can help us understand what is behind the resolve to instate intellectual property and the privatization of seeds through pacts, conventions, agreements, laws, standards, norms, registries, and certifications; why so much effort is invested in pushing aside what has been humanity’s fundamental task for thousands of years.

Trade deals handing Japanese seeds to multinational corporations

Farmers, civil society and prominent figures in Japan have succeeded in temporarily postponing the amendment of the PVP Act, a major attempt against the public management of seeds. But what lies behind these efforts to amend the PVP Act? And is stopping the revision of the PVP Act enough?

Farmers, civil society and prominent figures in Japan have succeeded in temporarily postponing the amendment of the PVP Act, a major attempt against the public management of seeds. But what lies behind these efforts to amend the PVP Act? And is stopping the revision of the PVP Act enough?

Asia under threat of UPOV 91

The push for Asian countries to join UPOV – the Union for the protection of new plant varieties, a kind of patent system for seeds – or to follow its rules is raging today under the auspices of various trade negotiations. With up to 80% of all seeds used in Asia today still coming from farmers who save seeds from previous harvests, joining UPOV 1991 would be catastrophic. It compromises farmers’ freedom over their seeds and further consolidates the seed industry.

The push for Asian countries to join UPOV – the Union for the protection of new plant varieties, a kind of patent system for seeds – or to follow its rules is raging today under the auspices of various trade negotiations. With up to 80% of all seeds used in Asia today still coming from farmers who save seeds from previous harvests, joining UPOV 1991 would be catastrophic. It compromises farmers’ freedom over their seeds and further consolidates the seed industry.

What's wrong with biofortified crops? The fight for genuine solutions to malnutrition is on

GRAIN and friends issue a call to action; inviting women's groups and peasant organisations to examine the issue of biofortification—locally, regionally, nationally or globally. We think there is enough information and experience to justify a boycott of all biofortified crops and foods, coupled with demands for investment in a different approach to agricultural research based on agroecology, local culture and food sovereignty.

GRAIN and friends issue a call to action; inviting women's groups and peasant organisations to examine the issue of biofortification—locally, regionally, nationally or globally. We think there is enough information and experience to justify a boycott of all biofortified crops and foods, coupled with demands for investment in a different approach to agricultural research based on agroecology, local culture and food sovereignty.

Biofortified crops or biodiversity? The fight for genuine solutions to malnutrition is on

GRAIN took a look at the current status of biofortification in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the emerging critiques from feminist perspectives and food sovereignty movements. What we found is a worrisome push for a top-down and anti-diversity approach to food and health that may ultimately undermine people’s capacities to strengthen their local food systems.

GRAIN took a look at the current status of biofortification in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the emerging critiques from feminist perspectives and food sovereignty movements. What we found is a worrisome push for a top-down and anti-diversity approach to food and health that may ultimately undermine people’s capacities to strengthen their local food systems.

“Seeds in resistance” comic

We share Seeds in resistance, a comic made from the animation documentary “Semillas, ¿Bien común o propiedad corporativa? [Seeds: common good or corporate property] published in 2017 by a collective of Latin-American organisations who work through all the continent in defence of native and indigenous seeds seeking a food sovereignty for the peoples.

We share Seeds in resistance, a comic made from the animation documentary “Semillas, ¿Bien común o propiedad corporativa? [Seeds: common good or corporate property] published in 2017 by a collective of Latin-American organisations who work through all the continent in defence of native and indigenous seeds seeking a food sovereignty for the peoples.

Don’t get fooled again! Unmasking two decades of lies about Golden Rice

In a now iconic Time magazine cover back in 2000, Golden Rice was hailed as the “rice that could save millions.” The optimistic prediction of commercialising the genetically-modified (GM) rice in the early 2000s turned out to be a dud: two decades hence and the Golden Rice has yet to fulfill its messianic promise of solving Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) among kids in poor countries.

In a now iconic Time magazine cover back in 2000, Golden Rice was hailed as the “rice that could save millions.” The optimistic prediction of commercialising the genetically-modified (GM) rice in the early 2000s turned out to be a dud: two decades hence and the Golden Rice has yet to fulfill its messianic promise of solving Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) among kids in poor countries.

The real seeds producers: Small-scale farmers save, use, share and enhance the seed diversity of the crops that feed Africa

The picture often painted for us is that we need corporate seeds to feed the world: they are alleged to be more efficient, productive and predictable. Locally developed farmer varieties are painted as backwards, less-productive and disease-ridden. But those of us with our feet on the ground know that this is not the reality in Africa. Just to start with a sobering fact: the vast bulk of food produced on the continent comes from homegrown farmers’ seeds (some studies put the figure at 80%). If these seeds are so “backward,” what moves farmers to keep preserving and planting them? What benefits do they derive from them? What challenges do they encounter in this effort? How must they be supported so that they can do their work more effectively? AFSA and GRAIN decided to find out. We work with numerous partner organisations across the continent, many of them involved in local seed diversity activities. AFSA along with many other civil society organisations (CSO) on the continent have adopted the term farmer-managed seed systems (FMSS) to acknowledge certain practices that have been dismissed as “informal” by some.

The picture often painted for us is that we need corporate seeds to feed the world: they are alleged to be more efficient, productive and predictable. Locally developed farmer varieties are painted as backwards, less-productive and disease-ridden. But those of us with our feet on the ground know that this is not the reality in Africa. Just to start with a sobering fact: the vast bulk of food produced on the continent comes from homegrown farmers’ seeds (some studies put the figure at 80%). If these seeds are so “backward,” what moves farmers to keep preserving and planting them? What benefits do they derive from them? What challenges do they encounter in this effort? How must they be supported so that they can do their work more effectively? AFSA and GRAIN decided to find out. We work with numerous partner organisations across the continent, many of them involved in local seed diversity activities. AFSA along with many other civil society organisations (CSO) on the continent have adopted the term farmer-managed seed systems (FMSS) to acknowledge certain practices that have been dismissed as “informal” by some.

New report shines light on the role of farmers in saving Africa’s seed diversity

An analysis on the role of small-scale farmers in saving Africa’s seed diversity has been compiled and co-published today by GRAIN, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) together with research partners from Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

An analysis on the role of small-scale farmers in saving Africa’s seed diversity has been compiled and co-published today by GRAIN, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) together with research partners from Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

"Seeds in resistance" video animation

"Seeds in resistance" is an animation developed in connection with the documentary "Seeds: commons or corporate property?", produced in 2017 by a collective of Latin American organisations from all across the continent that are working to defend native seeds as the basis of peoples' food sovereignty.  

"Seeds in resistance" is an animation developed in connection with the documentary "Seeds: commons or corporate property?", produced in 2017 by a collective of Latin American organisations from all across the continent that are working to defend native seeds as the basis of peoples' food sovereignty.  

Mexico: The dangers of industrial corn and its processed edible products

In August 2017, a Mexican research team composed of members from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM) published a study showing the presence of transgenes and the herbicide glyphosate in processed foods and tortillas made from industrial maize (corn) throughout Mexico.

In August 2017, a Mexican research team composed of members from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM) published a study showing the presence of transgenes and the herbicide glyphosate in processed foods and tortillas made from industrial maize (corn) throughout Mexico.

Civil society decries FSANZ approval of Golden Rice

The recent release of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) approval report of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) application for a Golden Rice ‘safety stamp’ and trade liability clearance have garnered negative reactions and widespread critique. 

The recent release of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) approval report of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) application for a Golden Rice ‘safety stamp’ and trade liability clearance have garnered negative reactions and widespread critique.