Seed banks. The importance of not losing control.

Until now it did not seem very important where the farmer planted the seeds from , whether he bought them from companies or agricultural business cooperatives, came from the exchange with other farmers or from having saved part of the previous year’s production to replant them the following year.

Until now, when things evolve so quickly, no one realized the importance of taking one or another action and the consequences that this has in the future.

Companies are governed by two values:

  • Profits
  • Market

At first, it does not seem that companies earn much from the sale of seeds, but far from this, companies that are specializing in the sale and treatment of seeds are obtaining succulent benefits, depending on in which country they manage to get hold of it. market. That is to say, logically they are obtaining greater benefits where they are able to do with more clients and if they end up or not, controlling all their production.

This has led them to design various strategiesthat assure them market, control and greater benefits. The most common strategy is the creation of “registered seed brands” with legal backing against whoever sows these without having acquired them under the terms they have established. At the beginning, to be able to introduce them to the market, they sell them at a low price and ensure high profitability, in the case of seeds from derived or hybrid species modified in the laboratory, what they do not count is that they are infertile in two or three replants. They also use the technique of placing strict obligations on the sale of the production obtained. Practice, the latter, carried out in certain agricultural business cooperatives, where farmers are forced to sell “exclusively” all the production obtained from the seeds they bought,

Over time and due to the lack of economic training of many farmers, companies that take over a market in this way, in the long run end up obtaining a monopoly of seed production (or duopoly if they are two companies, but normally not. there are specialized in many products, they have to distribute it to them, even if they are not very legal practices). Thus, they can freely impose the prices they want on them (usually upwards) and the economic results of the farms will end up being controlled by themselves from the outside (downwards). Fact that is happening in India, where among other seeds, hybrid cotton seeds have led to the total bankruptcy of many farmers, causing many of them to end up committing suicide (sold by multinational companies, mostly from the West).

But this reality not only has economic effects. In general, the monopoly of seeds can end up negatively affecting biodiversityof the environment, by altering the habitat or the relationship that native species have with other plant species or with the animals that live with them or feed on them. And in particular, in addition, the monopoly of seeds, will affect the diversity of the crop species. The seeds obtained from a local, autochthonous species, over which the monopoly company does not have control, are not “profitable” at the international level, they are not economically interesting and therefore, they will do everything possible to make them disappear. Regarding the latter, there are judgments in the United States, where farmers, when their plantations are infected with pollen from neighborhood farms of “brand” production, they have lost all production and have also had to compensate the company for having seeds “Branded” without authorization.

Given the diversity that still exists in Europe and the growth and interest in organic farming by producers and consumers, it is necessary for everyone to make an effort and dedicate time to this issue, to maintain and not lose the sovereignty and freedom that we possess, for the moment , on the seeds. We cannot be fooled with false promises, ensuring a certain productive capacity or low cost, circumstances change over time and more if they are established by others. In the long run, when sovereignty over things is surrendered, the little ones always lose.

To avoid this, many farmers and horticultural enthusiasts are beginning to exchange seeds among themselves and thus bypass the control that these companies intend to establish. Another method, not very widespread but promising, is the creation of public seed banks or local agrarian communities, to which part of the seeds obtained during the year are voluntarily transferred, so that they become available to others, ensuring thus the conservation and availability of the same and above all, the diversity.

However, depending on what we decide to do today, tomorrow others will have more or less variety of products, will or will not have control over the quantity and type of product they want to plant, will be productive and economically self-sufficient, or will become one more link in the production chain of others, who are in large offices hundreds of kilometers away or on another Continent, a mere employee who puts his land, tools and labor at the service of large multinationals, at the prices that they agree . What responsibility!


Written by José G. Fraile


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