Feb 28, 2018

Vandana Shiva and the struggle to take back control of seeds

By Alan Broughton

Crop varieties have been selected and reproduced over thousands of years by farmers, creating great

After the end of World War II, with the sudden availability of nitrate fertilisers – used in munitions – and pesticides developed for protecting soldiers from lice and mosquitoes, corporations saw great opportunities in agriculture. New crop varieties were developed that responded well to nitrate fertilisers and were more susceptible to pests and diseases.

These new varieties were often hybrids that either failed to germinate in the next generation or reverted to one of their parents, meaning they have to be purchased each year. Some, however, do reproduce well, so plant breeders rights legislation, under various names, was introduced to legally prevent seed saving of those patented varieties.

Genetic modification is a further strategy to ensure continual re-purchase of seeds.

Consequently, huge numbers of crop varieties have been lost as control over genetic resources is transferred from farmers to corporations.

As alarm over this was raised around the world, seed saving networks sprang up to protect the remaining traditional varieties.