|Title||Seeds of Freedom|
|Date released (year)||2012|
|Production company||The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network. In collaboration with GRAIN, Navdanya International and MELCA Ethiopia .|
|Keywords/tags||Agriculture, food, food security, poverty|
|Link to film||http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvgaMd6GBgQ
|Synopsis||The story of seed has become one of loss, control, dependence and debt. It’s been written by those who want to make vast profit from our food system, no matter what the true cost. It’s time to change the story. Narrated by Jeremy Irons.
Seeds of Freedom charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional, diversity rich farming systems across the world, to being transformed into a powerful commodity, used to monopolise the global food system.The film highlights the extent to which the industrial agricultural system, and genetically modified (GM) seeds in particular, has impacted on the enormous agro -biodiversity evolved by farmers and communities around the world, since the beginning of agriculture.
Seeds of Freedom seeks to challenge the mantra that large-scale, industrial agriculture is the only means by which we can feed the world, promoted by the pro-GM lobby. In tracking the story of seed it becomes clear how corporate agenda has driven the take over of seed in order to make vast profit and control of the food global system.
Through interviews with leading international experts such as Dr Vandana Shiva and Henk Hobbelink, and through the voices of a number of African farmers, the film highlights how the loss of indigenous seed goes hand in hand with loss of biodiversity and related knowledge; the loss of cultural traditions and practices; the loss of livelihoods; and the loss of food sovereignty. The pressure is growing to replace the diverse, nutritional, locally adapted and resilient seed crops which have been bred by small-scale farmers for millenia, by monocultures of GM seed.
Alongside speakers from indigenous farming communities, the film features global experts and activists Dr Vandana Shiva of Navdanya, Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN, Zac Goldsmith MP (UK Conservative party), Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace International, Gathuru Mburu of the African Biodiversity Network, Liz Hosken of The Gaia Foundation and Caroline Lucas MP (UK Green party).
|Reviews/discussion||The Gaia Foundation (Gaia) has over 25 years experience working with partners in Africa, South America, Asia and Europe to regenerate cultural and biological diversity. In collaboration with partners on the ground, particularly through the African Biodiversity Network, The Gaia Foundation works with communities who are committed to regaining their seed, water and food sovereignty. Together, Gaia and partners have pioneered the Climate, Seed & Knowledge (CSK) programme, which supports the revival of indigenous seed diversity and related knowledge through tools such as eco-cultural calendars. These were developed through Gaia’s work in the Amazon in the 90’s with Gaia Amazonas. In the 90’s, when the first GM crop was shipped from USA to Europe, without any public debate, Gaia helped to initiate a broad-based coalition of civil society groups in the UK calling for a moratorium on genetic engineering (GE) in food and agriculture. This later became what is now known as the GM Freeze campaign, the first of many to fight against GM across Europe and beyond.
The African Biodiversity Network
The African Biodiversity Network (ABN) is a regional network of individuals and organisations first conceived in 1996 in response to growing concerns over threats to biodiversity in Africa. As the agendas of global agri-business turned their attention to Africa, the need to develop strong African positions, a united African voice and the legal instruments to oppose these threats became increasingly important. This advocacy work is rooted in ABN’S work to revive ecosystem and community resilience, by focusing on the regeneration of indigenous knowledge and ecological agricultural practices. The Climate, Seed & Knowledge (CSK) programme emerged out of the work with communities, to recuperate their traditional seed diversity and related knowledge. This is the foundation of climate change resilience, and in turn food and seed sovereignty. ABN is one of the founding partners of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), which was initiated in 2009, bringing together a number of African regional networks working on issues ranging from farming and agro-ecology, to indigenous peoples’ rights and related advocacy.
The African individuals and communities who feature in the film have been working with partner organisations of the African Biodiversity Network to revive their local seed varieties. In Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa in particular, these communities are reclaiming their seed sovereignty. This area of work, known as the Climate, Seed & Knowledge programme, has been developed by the ABN and Gaia with communities over the last decade. Find out more: http://www.seedsoffreedom.info/our-projects/climate-seed-knowledge/
Dr Hans R Herren, President Biovision Foundation and Millennium Institute
“Yet another important piece of the puzzle that we needed to get the full picture of what a sustainable agriculture, food and nutrition security reality looks like. It is time for our decision makers to protect the branch we are sitting on, them included, and so they need to return the rights to the seeds to their legal owners, the farmers”
Vandana Shiva, Founding Director, Navdanya, India
“Seeds of Freedom is a powerful film with an important message. There is a new wave of cultural imperialism taking place right now in the field of biodiversity and seed. We are losing our critical seed diversity to just a handful of corporations in the western world. The genetic erosion taking place here is tantamount to ecocide. The rate of farmer suicides because of crop failure and debt is nothing short of genocide. We must decentralise our food system.”
Henk Hobbelink, Co-ordinator, GRAIN
“It is time for people to realise that diversity means survival. Diversity is what gives us resilience, and resilience is exactly what we are going to need as the climate changes alongside social, political and economic landscapes. It’s very important for people to realise that we simply won’t be able to produce the food that we need if we allow our natural biodiversity to be further eroded. Watch Seeds of Freedom and then do something about it. It’s time for us all to stop partaking in this aggressive food system and to demand something different.”
“There’s a popular myth that Africa needs and wants GM, which needs to be dispelled. Quite categorically, they don’t – farmers from the continent have been successfully saving and selecting seeds for thousands of years. Films like Seeds of Freedom are vital in highlighting the voices of these people, a people who recognise the importance of maintaining seed ownership and diversity for reasons of culture, climate resilience and food sovereignty.”
|Links to other resources||United Nations University, Are transgenic crops safe? GM agriculture in Africa, at: http://unu.edu/publications/articles/are-transgenic-crops-safe-gm-agriculture-in-africa.html
Jennifer G. Cooke, Richard Downie (2010) Assessing the Debate in Zambia, Kenya, and South Africa: http://csis.org/publication/african-perspectives-genetically-modified-crops
GMO Watch: http://www.gmo-watch.com/