Save Our Seeds

Saatgut ist die Grundlage unserer Ernährung. Es steht am Anfang und am Ende eines Pflanzenlebens. Die Vielfalt und freie Zugänglichkeit dieses Menschheitserbes zu erhalten, das von Generation zu Generation weitergegeben wird, ist die Aufgabe von Save Our Seeds.

Foto:
Ursula Schulz-Dornburg

07.11.2018 |

Baysanto “patent on severed broccoli” revoked

Success for coalition against patents on seeds

7.11.2018 / The European Patent Office (EPO) has revoked patent EP1597965 covering traditionally bred broccoli. The plants are supposed to grow a little bit higher so that they can be harvested more easily. The patent was granted in 2013 to Monsanto, which has meanwhile been bought up by Bayer. The revocation follows an opposition filed in 2014 by a broad coalition of organizations.

The decision of the EPO is based upon new rules for the examination of patents adopted in 2017. Accordingly, patents on plants and animals can no longer be granted if they are derived from conventional breeding using methods like crossing and selection. It is the first time that these new rules have resulted in the revocation of a patent. However, there is still some legal uncertainty: just recently, in October 2018, the EPO rejected oppositions against patents held by the Carlsberg & Heineken breweries on conventionally bred barley.

“This is an important success for the broad coalition of civil society organizations against patents on plants and animals. Without our activities, the EPO rules would not have been changed and the patent would still be valid. The giant corporations, such as Bayer, Syngenta and BASF, have failed in their attempt to completely monopolize conventional breeding through using patents,” says Christoph Then for No Patents on Seeds!. “But there are still huge legal loopholes as shown in the case of conventionally bred barley. Political decision makers now have to take further action.”

01.11.2018 |

Planting the Seeds of Indigenous Food Sovereignty |

I want to stress that we have no idea what we are doing.

So says ‘Cúagilákv Jessie Housty, a self-described “community agitator, mother, land-based educator, indigenist, [and] unapologetically Haíłzaqv” woman—who promptly displays all the hallmarks of someone who knows exactly what she is doing.

What Housty is doing, in a remote corner of British Columbia, Canada, is agitating, mothering, educating, and staking the ground of her traditional territory. She is a young Indigenous woman, who, with the help of her friends and family, is feeding the growth of her culture and her community.

Which is another way to say she’s gardening.

(.....)

Housty is thrilled that the learnings from K̓vi’aí are translating back to the larger year-round community of Bella Bella (population 1,300). There, she and her team have planted a community garden right beside the dock at the main entrance to the village. Numbered beds help band members identify what’s what as they help themselves to the seasonal spoils. At the same time, she and her team routinely deliver fresh produce to homes of community elders. Village classrooms plant seeds and give the seedlings away to a growing number of families starting their own gardens.

16.10.2018 |

Over 200 Global Food Movement Leaders and Organizations Reject "Gene Drives"

A picture from the FAO in Rome
A picture of some of the signers, who presented the call today at the FAO in Rome, not least also to the chairman of the CFS, Mario Arvelo, who participated in the event.-+--+-From left to right: Aisha Ali (IPACC, AFSA), Neth Dano (ETC), Pat Mooney (ETC), Benny Haerlin (SOS), Elisabeth Mpofu (Via Campesina), Mariann Bassey Orovwuje (AFSA, FoE), Sophia Monsalvo (FIAN), Tom Wakeford (ETC), Azra Talat Sayeed (IWA), Jan Urhahn (Inkota), Antonio Onorati (Via Campesina Europe)

New Report exposes how a controversial genetic forcing technology is targeting the farm

Rome, 16 October 2018 (World Food Day) – Global food movement leaders and organizations representing hundreds of millions of farmers and food workers today set out their clear opposition to "gene drives" – a controversial new genetic forcing technology. Their call for a stop to this technology accompanies a new report, Forcing the Farm, that lifts the lid on how gene drives may harm food and farming systems.

Gene drives are a genetic engineering tool that aim to force artificial genetic changes through entire populations of animals, insects and plants. Unlike previous genetically modified organisms (GMOs) these gene drive organisms (GDOs) are deliberately designed to spread genetic pollution as an agricultural strategy – for example, spreading 'auto-extinction' genes to wipe out agricultural pests. Agri-research bodies now developing these extinction-organisms include the California Cherry Board, the US Citrus Research Board and the private California company Agragene Inc. Next month, the United Nations Biodiversity Convention will meet to discuss measures to control this technology, including a possible moratorium.

"There is no place in a good food system for these deliberately spreading organisms," says Mariann Bassey, chair of the African Food Sovereignty Alliance, whose 34 member organisations are among the 200+ groups and individuals who have signed the call against gene drives. "Gene drives may drive species to extinction and undermine sustainable and equitable food and agriculture," Bassey continued.

Those launching the call for a moratorium on gene drives in food and agriculture include all past and present UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food; the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements; IUF (the International Union representing Food and Farmworkers); and La Via Campesina, the largest network of peasant movements representing 200 million peasants in 81 countries. Signatories also include well-known commentators on food matters including seed activist Vandana Shiva, World Food Prize winner Dr Hans Herren, International President of Friends of the Earth International Karin Nansen, Activist and Food entrepreneur Nell Newman, and environmentalist and geneticist David Suzuki.

"Applying gene drives to food systems threatens to harm farmers' rights and the rights of peasants as enshrined in international treaties," explains Dr Olivier De Schutter, who served as the UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food from 2008-2014. "Gene drives would undermine the realization of human rights including the right to healthy, ecologically-produced and culturally appropriate food and nutrition."

"La Via Campesina is firmly positioned against the gene drive technology. It is a threat to peasant economies, to people, countries and even the world's food sovereignty – a technique which threatens life, biodiversity and social systems, " said Genevieve LaLumiere, a Canadian young farmer of La Via Campesina. "This uncontrolled technology is dangerous and can contaminate our seeds, our animals and our soil; destabilize our ecosystems; and destroy our fundamental resources." Marciano Da Silva from Brasil Peasant Organisation (also of La Via Campesina) continued, "gene drive technology is, fundamentally, a tool for patentability of native traits of our peasant seeds."

08.10.2018 |

Patent on beer

The big breweries Carlsberg and Heineken jointly filed applications for patents on barley used for the production of beer and other beverages. The patents, EP2384110 and EP2373154, were granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2016. They cover barley plants derived from conventional breeding, their usage in brewing as well as the beer brewed thereof. The patents in question are based on random mutations in the genome of the barley. Kernels were brought into contact with chemicals and in reaction showed an increase in their genetic variability. Thereafter, specific mutations, already known to be useful, were selected by standard procedures. The kernels are supposedly more suitable for brewing beer that, it is hoped, will keep its fresh taste over longer period of time. Furthermore, the EPO granted a third patent (EP2575433) that covers a combination of the characteristics of the barley plants achieved by further crossings. Each of the three patents covers the plants, the harvest, the process for brewing, malt and wort and all drinks produced by this method.

Therefore, in 2017, NO PATENTS ON SEEDS!, together with around 40 other organizations, filed oppositions against these patents.

Hearings 2 and 8 October

On October 2nd and 8th, 2018, starting at 9 a.m., these oppositions will be heard in public hearings at the European Patent Office (EPO, Bob van Benthem-Platz 1, Munich).

07.10.2018 |

Stakeholders warn against introducing GM maize seed

LAHORE: Stakeholders have warned the new government against experimenting with the healthy maize crop, saying farmers, dairy and livestock sector, seed producers and industrialists are satisfied with the increase in harvest.

The federal government is in consultation with the stakeholders for introducing imported genetically modified (GM) maize seeds in the near future. These seeds will be protected from some pests and will have tolerance against lethal pesticides.

The new technology, however, will be detrimental to the local maize varieties as it will contaminate them due to cross-pollination.

The stakeholders have fiercely opposed the large-scale import of costly and potentially hazardous GM maize seeds. They argue that the maize crop has been showing tremendous results and there is no major challenge to its cultivation that needs any intervention.

05.10.2018 |

How should we control the power to genetically eliminate a species?

The power to re-engineer or eliminate wild species using a “gene drive” needs to be brought under international governance, say Simon Terry and Stephanie Howard

(Stephanie Howard and Simon Terry, researchers for the Sustainability Council of New Zealand)

Thanks to a form of genetic engineering technology known as a gene drive, it is now possible to modify or even eliminate a wild species in its natural habitat, bypassing the laws of inheritance that have governed nature for millennia. The power to deliver “extinction to order” is potentially immense – as is the political challenge.

The technology works by driving a gene throughout a population, meaning the plants or animals containing the drives could impact ecosystems that cross not just country borders, but entire continents.

03.10.2018 |

This Seed Bank Preserves Biodiversity by Opening Its Doors to Farmers

The Ethiopian institution pioneered a new model.

HOUSED IN THE NONDESCRIPT OFFICE buildings of the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute are a series of cryogenic vaults that, together, contain the largest and most important collection of plant seeds in sub-Saharan Africa. Located in the capital city of Addis Ababa, the facility stores seeds for more than 62,000 varieties of native plants related to horticultural production alone.

When it was founded in the early-1980s, the EBI became the world’s first living seed bank. This is in contrast to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is housed underneath thick ice not far from the North Pole, and is essentially a bunker meant to protect seedstocks against global calamity. By partnering with local farmers, the EBI instead “stores” a minimum of 40,000 additional varieties by keeping them alive and growing in fields.

“From a global perspective, the single focus of gene banks seems to be on collecting and preserving whatever samples they can find, and they call that conservation,” agronomist Melaku Worede told an interviewer in 2009. The 82-year-old helped found the EBI and received a Right Livelihood Award (commonly known as the Alternative Nobel) for his work as its first director. “We, on the other hand, believe in conservation through use, in keeping diversity alive as you use it.”

03.10.2018 |

New Study Shows Roundup Kills Bees

Glyphosate targets undesired weeds—as well as honeybees

The most widely sprayed herbicide in the world kills honeybees, according to a new report.

Glyphosate, an herbicide and active ingredient in Monsanto’s (now Bayer’s) Roundup weed killer, targets enzymes long assumed to be found only in plants. The product is advertised as being innocuous to wildlife. But some bacteria also use this enzyme, including a microbiome found in the intestines of most bees. When pollinators come in contact with glyphosate, the chemical reduces this gut bacteria, leaving bees vulnerable to pathogens and premature death.

“The bee itself has no molecular targets from glyphosate,” Nancy Moran, a biologist at the University of Texas at Austin and a coauthor of the study, told Environmental Health News. “But its gut bacteria do have targets.”

Moran and other scientists liken glyphosate exposure to taking too many antibiotics—and upsetting the balance of good bacteria that supports immunity and digestion.

“We all know that glyphosate is an antibiotic. It’s very toxic to bacteria. It’s even patented as an antibiotic,” says Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But very few researchers have actually dived into this issue. The good thing is, that’s starting to change.”

02.10.2018 |

Imported seeds fast replacing local varieties in Pakistan

KARACHI: Agriculture constitutes the largest sector of Pakistan’s economy and the majority of the population depends on it. It contributes about 24 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), accounts for half of the country’s employed labor force, and is the largest source of foreign exchange earnings. It feeds the whole rural and urban populations of Pakistan.

The country has a rich biodiversity and multinational companies have realized this. Thousands of varieties of seeds, medicinal plants and herbs have been developed over hundreds of years by farming communities, who were well-equipped with indigenous knowledge of the local environment, climate and conditions for agricultural production.

But the day is not far off when the entire seed business will be controlled by seed companies, leaving local farmers totally dependent on imported or multinationals’ seeds.

01.10.2018 |

Call to Action 2018: Our Bread, Our Freedom

Food systems are either sources of nourishment forging the foundations of human health and well-being or one of the most substantial health risk factors.

An entire colonization of the earth, agriculture and our bodies has taken place over a century. Food and agriculture systems upon which we all depend have increasingly become industrialized and globalized. Commercial compulsions of current global agricultural and food systems, compounded by high levels of economic inequality are making healthy diets unavailable or unaffordable to large sections of the population in every part of the world.

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