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Apr232013

It all begins with seeds. 

For many in our world today, the security of knowing where their next meal might come from is an unknown reality– or an unheard of luxury. As traditional farming methods are usurped by multi-nationals, the reality of food production and nature’s balance has now become skewed to project profit for the few.

In the 1990’s the World Bank advised all Third World countries to change course from “food first” to “export first” policies.[1] Yet the exports were luxury crops for the developed worlds – cotton, flowers, sugar, meat, chocolate, shrimp, and fruits. Cash crops displaced food crops. The small farm holdings which were self-sustaining became dependent on food purchase. Industrial agriculture methods were now partnered with monoculture practices and corporate monopolies began to control the food supply and the export profits.

How could the small farmer landholders give up their sovereignty in food production? It all begins with seeds. Seed is the first link in the food chain. Seed is the ultimate symbol of food security.[2]

Free seed exchange among farmers has been the foundation of maintaining food biodiversity as well as food security through millennia.[3] Yet the free trade agreements enacted, new marketing board regulations, coupled with the hybrid and GMO seeds that were proffered required expensive chemicals, pesticides and farming equipment that relied on constant oil supplies and ongoing purchases.[4] And they no longer could supply their own food needs. For indigenous and small holding farmers this resulted in punishing debt. In India alone, thousands have committed suicide.[5]

Even when food production has increased, for example in wheat, the world hunger issues were not eliminated –in large part because of inequities of distribution and the egregious economies of profit.[6] The traditional farming methods were not to blame.

Food security can only be realized if the indigenous and small-holding farmers, including women as land-holders, have the right of food sovereignty and food security. Traditional seed saving and organic agriculture hold the keys to this freedom. We each have choices to make about our food and our own way of life. For those of us living in the advantages of the “developed world” what are the moral choices we are prepared to make so that all may enjoy food security as birthright and earth-right? What seeds will we sow?


[1] Vandana Shiva, Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply, Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2000, p.15, 14-15. 

[2] Ibid.,  p. 8.

[3] Ibid.,  p. 8-10.

[4] Vandana Shiva, Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Crisis, Brooklyn, New York: South End Press, 2008,  p. 95-96.

[5] Ibid.,  p. 10, 101.

[6] Celia Deane-Drummond, Eco-Theology, London: Darton, Long & Todd Ltd., 2008, p. 2-3.

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Reader Comments (1)

Very nice and informative post.

July 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHealth_sciences

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