The Campaign for the Living Seed

A new era began on Sept. 11 and one conclusion seems inescapable. Though America may appear to be the most powerful nation ever assembled, with a larger military and security apparatus and more war toys than any before us, these strengths may not be the ones we most need to thrive in the twenty-first century.

Maybe it is time to examine the nature of strength. To the extent that our society’s key sectors are centralized, to that extent we are vulnerable. We are highly centralized no matter where we look, whether at ownership and control of our news media, our transportation system, or our food system.

Whereas in 1900 one out of every two citizens were farmers, today fewer than one in fifty farm. Megafarms located in a few concentrated areas produce most of our food. The average foodstuff travels 1,500 miles to our table. Our seed industry is even more highly concentrated, with five corporations controlling 75% of the global vegetable seed trade. What does it mean when the largest of these, with 40% of the North American market, is in such deep financial trouble that rumors of its imminent demise persist?

When are we strong? When most of our farmers have been deliberately driven off the land by government policies on behalf of corporate megafarms and food processors? Or when our rural social fabric is woven together by myriads of small self-reliant farms? When a handful of corporate behemoths acting in concert with agencies of our own federal government claim the very genetics of our varieties as intellectual property? Or when independent freeholders control their own seed supply?

Security is a foundation of a strong society. We can achieve true food security only when our farmers and gardeners control their own means of production. In response to events that began Sept. 11 we invite you to help create a Campaign for the Living Seed, to build real strength within our food system and communities.

The roots of the campaign are as follows:

  • Support local farmers: Keep our food $ close to home. Not only do we strengthen rural communities, but we also reduce dependence on nonrenewable foreign energy sources. We put a human face on our food supply and eat food that is fresher and tastes better.
  • Grow Seed Security Gardens: Reclaim our seed security. Just as many Americans during World War II grew Victory Gardens to secure an independent food supply, we propose that gardeners and farmers grow seed gardens to secure an enduring independence from multinational corporations.
  • Start Seed Schools: Bring the seeds back home. Every child should have the opportunity to learn where food comes from and how to grow food. Let us pass our agricultural heritage on to the next generation!
  • Terminate Terminator: Keep our seed alive. Let us prevent a handful of greedy corporations from unleashing sterile seeds upon the world. Let us keep the seed alive and preserve the rights of gardeners and farmers everywhere to save their own seeds!