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The Right to save seed is 10,000 years old, is it a human right?

Brian White
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Joined: Jan 26 2005

Our local Salt spring seeds is giving up growing and selling heirloom beets, sugar beets, and swiss chard. .   A new gmo sugar beet has just been approved so if one grain of pollen gets into their growing area, their plants can be tested and then they  can be sued by the patent owners  and they would lose the company.  There is no way of knowing simply from looking at the plants if they contain patented genes or not.  Beet pollen is windborn and because all the beet varieties interbreed and the windborn pollen can travel really long distances, it is simply not worth the commercial risk.  Next to go will probably be brassicae (cabbage, kale, sprouts, kohlrabi, brocolli, mustard, chineese cabbage etc because of gmo canola which breeds with them.  After that, linseed (golden flax) is likely to be too much of a risk because much of our canadian flax is contaminated with gmo genes. 

Isn't it time to go to the UN and get a birthright as agrarian people inserted in our human rights?  I see that as the only way now to prevent thieft by genetic contamination.  What do you think? Brian


Comments

radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

"Star Trek" wasn't so far off with the "Prime Directive"

With changes in technology and corporations trying to exploit those technologies for profit I can see new sets of rights evolving in the 21st Century in response to these challenges.

Protecting unique life forms from genetic contamination might indeed be one of them.

In another sphere...namely software, I view the "four freedoms" of the free software movement as the beginning of a set of fundamental freedoms for computer users.    When the GNU General Public License was first written by Richard Stallman back in 1991, computer users were a minority of the world's population.    That's changing rapidly and soon just about everyone in the world...including the third world will be a computer user of some sort.

So my short answer is yes!


Brian White
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Joined: Jan 26 2005

Well, now, the issue is really serious. Genetic contamination happens anyway, but genetic contamination being the fault of the person whose  material gets contaminated is totally new. Also, making the saving of your own seed illegal is totally new.  Now the situation is that if the seed is heirloom, you can still save it, but if it contains patented genes, you cannot.  But nobody can tell unless you do a genetic test!     We are losing all the heirloom varieties across north america because of the fear of legal action! Small seed companies will either sell up or quit due to legal pressure and little gardening clubs are probably not capable of maintaining the seed stocks.  Even big companies come under huge pressure. I saw a case of one US grain company who have fought to keep gmo material out of their lines in their factories and away from the farmers who supply them (so that they can continue  exporting to Europe, etc) but they have been sued by a gmo maker for not allowing the gmo stuff through. They are actively trying to contaminate the lines!   If a few grains get into their system,  they lose the european contracts.  I forget which companies in the USA but the case is for many millions of dollars.  This is a gigantic food security issue.  Within 5 years, we will have almost no variety in beets, brassicae flax etc.  Genetic varibility is critical to growing food long term. Locally climatized varieties are critical too. Not much use to us in BC if the seed stocks are all exactly the same and housed in california or the eastern states.


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

I agree with you completely, Brian.  It's terrible, the way GMO companies can get away with suing people when THEY contaminate other people's crops!  Talk about a license to print money.


6079_Smith_W
Online
Joined: Jun 10 2010

Sometimes it comes down to money talking. There was an ag rep on the radio this morning talking about the need to get triffid GM flax out of Canadian fields because of the devastating effect it has had on sales:

http://www.albertafarmexpress.ca/news/prairie-flax-bids-fall-over-europe...

http://rense.com/general11/gm.htm


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

Edited to say: Hey, when you delete spammers' posts, I guess that makes our posts responding to them look kinda dumb. :)  Oh well!


outwest
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Joined: Dec 2 2008

Yes, Brian, I absolutely believe this is an issue worth supporting and taking further! Most non-gardening citizens won't have a clue what you are talking about, but those in the know about sustainable matters certainly will.

 


6079_Smith_W
Online
Joined: Jun 10 2010

Actually most people in areas with a connection to agriculture - even in cities - would certainly be aware of GMO and patented seed technology. It's hard not to when there are ads for Roundup Reeady Canola on billboards, TV and in the papers.

Not everyone comes at it from the same angle of course, even if some, like those in the piece I linked to above, are starting to do the right thing, though primarily for financial reasons.


Brian White
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Joined: Jan 26 2005

Sorry, I thought I covered this her already,  a week or 2 ago, I noted that a bunch of online anti GMO writers, (no doubt copying each other and too lazy to think) spoke of seeds contaminating organic crops. Of course, in most cases, it isn't seeds at all, it is POLLEN.   Try stopping pollen!  It is impossible.     You cannot even see it.  I also noted that Brazil now pays some sort of 1% tax to the seed company for soybeans.  It is interesting that 1 gene in about 45,000 entitles you to 1%, (If it is a gene from a bacteria).   so I guess if you introduce 100 genes (from bacteria, because you didn't INVENT the gene), you get all the money from the sale of th crop?


Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004

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