With the slogan “Cultivate Diversity. Sow your rights“ the campaign of Red de Semillas was relaunched in April with several symbolic actions around Spain. The symbolic activities, supported by 20 local seed networks, were promoting the sale of traditional seeds by the farmers themselves.
The Spanish Seeds Networks do great work in promoting organic and peasant farming and the use of traditional varieties, as well as retrieving peasant knowledge and information on the local food culture. At the same time they fight the patents in agriculture and GMOs, and ask the Spanish government for a legal framework that will give the farmers the right to save, use and sell traditional varieties, as well as enable the retrieving of the genetic cultivated heritage.
The campaign “Cultivate diversity. Sow your rights” was reactivated after the success of the State Week of Agricultural Biodiversity in October 2011, and took place during the week of actions against GMOs around Spain, especially in regions of high relevance such as Andalucia, Aragon, Catalonia, Madrid, Valencia and Galicia.
According to the press release of the Seed Networks “Acting in this way we appeal to the sense of justice for the majority of the community, and declare that, in our opinion, the principles of social cooperation among people who make the full right to food are not being respected by prohibiting farmers from selling their seeds. The traditional varieties are an essential source for healthy food, respecting the environment by making proper use of natural resources, promoting rural culture, ethical values and quality of life.”
The problem goes beyond Spanish borders. The EU law does not allow seeds to be sold if they are not registered in the national or EU seed catalogue. In an attempt to preserve biodiversity and genetic resources, the EU law has introduced some less stringent legislation in order to allow the marketing of some conservation seeds i.e. plants that have been grown and adapted to a local or regional conditions, which are under threat of disappearing. However it does not cover all the traditional varieties, such as grains.
At the moment the EU Commission is preparing an evaluation of the seed laws.A number of EU NGOs have been asking for “a more environmental and consumer friendly legislation that will allow for the marketing of less homogenous, but genetically broader and better locally adapted varieties, and remove obstacles to the marketing and exchange of seeds of old, rare and farmers’ varieties, to enhance diversity and sustainability in European agriculture and better meet consumers’ demands.”
Until the EU law changes we can all help to support such local initiatives and buy as much local traditional food as we can. Our power of consumers is big, do not forget it.