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Seed Laws Are Criminalizing Farmers for Saving and Using Their Own Seeds or Seeds They Buy

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?


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La Via Campesina
DEFEND FARMERS’ OWN SEED SYSTEMS
Farmers’ fields are the first line of defense against bad seed laws. This means organising to rescue, collect, maintain, develop, share and use local farmers seeds. It is very important that women and young people are all involved. You can start a project with neighbours or local associations, talk to market or street vendors, get schools or you work place involved, etc. Seed fairs and visits to farms and gardens are an important part of this work.

STOP “MONSANTO LAWS”

Law proposals criminalising farmers are easier to fight against before they become written into law. If public opinion is against them, they become more costly for governments to push through. Organise street protests, make videos, talk to the media, organise direct actions...

JOIN FORCES WITH OTHER FARMERS

In many other countries, farmers are fighting very similar laws. Learning from them and their experiences, good and bad, can be very helpful. Even if we have different strategies, we can build common fronts against the seed industry and the governments acting in their interest.

BUILD ALLIANCES WITH OTHER MOVEMENTS

Broad alliances can be built when people understand that seeds affect everyone’s well-being, not only farmers. The struggle for seeds can be integrated into farmers’ wider struggles, since there is no food sovereignty without seed sovereignty. Seed struggles can also be important parts of larger fights, such as campaigns and actions against free trade agreements, austerity measures, new patent or internet regimes, climate change, land laws, etc.

UNDO THE PROPAGANDA

Seed companies and governments present seed laws as protecting consumers, ensuring quality seeds, raising yields and feeding the hungry. We need to debunk these myths and show that the agriculture they are promoting is toxic and generates hunger. These laws are only meant to extract wealth.

TRY TO GET POSITIVE LAWS

In some cases, it may be possible to obtain favorable laws, programmes or tools that protect farmers’ seed systems. Think of GM-free zones, laws rejecting patents on life or programmes that promote local varieties and farmers seeds. In other cases, such laws or legal efforts may exclude people, divide communities, entangle farmers in legal bureaucracies, create contradictions or be a waste of time.






Reprinted with permission from Grain.

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