Seeds of freedom


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 .
Length 30mins
Keywords/tags Agriculture, food, food security, poverty
Link to film
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.

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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.

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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:

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.”

Kumi Naidoo

“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:


Jennifer G. Cooke, Richard   Downie (2010) Assessing the Debate in Zambia, Kenya, and South   Africa:


GMO Watch:

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Title Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity   for Women Worldwide
Director(s) A team of veteran filmmakers   collaborated to create to bring the stories and ideas of Nicholas Kristof and   Sheryl WuDunn’s best-selling book to public television audiences nationwide.
Date   released (year) 2012
Length 4 hours
Production   company Show of Force, LLC and Fugitive   Films, LLC in association with PBS and ITVS
Location International (10 countries),   including Somaliland, Kenya and Sierra Lione
Keywords/tags Gender, feminism, prostitution, sex   trafficking, women, domestic violence, education, health, economic   empowerment, livelihoods
Link   to film

Synopsis Half the Sky: Turning Oppression   into Opportunity for Women Worldwide was filmed in 10 countries and   follows Kristof, WuDunn, and celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane,   Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union, and Olivia Wilde on a journey to tell   the stories of inspiring, courageous individuals. Across the globe oppression   is being confronted, and real meaningful solutions are being fashioned   through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls.   The linked problems of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based   violence, and maternal mortality — which needlessly claim one woman every 90   seconds — present to us the single most vital opportunity of our time: the   opportunity to make a change. All over the world women are seizing this   opportunity.
Reviews/discussion Women   and girls across the globe face threats — trafficking, prostitution,   violence, discrimination — every day of their lives. But hope endures. Brave   men and women have developed innovative ways of helping those living in some   of the most challenging conditions.

A   girl in India is on the brink of being sold into the commercial sex trade. A   young mother in Somaliland may die giving birth. In Sierra Leone, a girl has   been raped and must confront the norms of her community. A women whose   husband abused her now helps those suffering at the hands of their spouses.

These   are the stories of individuals who represent hundreds of millions of women   and girls around the world who are victimized and abused, denied access to   education, medicine or property, prevented from reaching their full potential   and contributing in more meaningful ways to their communities. These are   stories of dehumanizing violence and discrimination. But these are also   stories of struggle and victories, large and small, in the face of the   longest odds.

A   women whose husband abused her now helps those suffering at the hands of   their spouses. With a book, a teenage girl in Vietnam takes the first steps   towards breaking the cycle of grinding poverty that plagues her family.   Dozens of former impoverished individuals, seeking economic independence,   band together to establish what will become Kenya’s fastest-growing   microfinance organization.

Each   of these stories puts a human face to an otherwise abstract idea or string of   statistics that could never convey the true human cost of the discrimination   and abuse suffered by hundreds of millions. These stories also illuminate the   spirit of perseverance that is embodied by the women and girls who face these   violations each day, and those who have made it their life’s mission to help   them


Links   to other resources The Half the   Sky Movement is cutting across platforms to ignite the change needed to put   an end to the oppression of women and girls worldwide, the defining issue of   our time. Inspired by journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book   of the same name, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women   Worldwide brings together video, websites, games, blogs and other educational   tools to not only raise awareness of women’s issues, but to also provide   concrete steps to fight these problems and empower women. Change is possible,   and you can   be part of the solution. See