By Sara Baga
Feb 10, 2015
SEED ACT tells the stories of the women and men that dedicate their lives and work to preserving and defending our farm seed heritage. In a world choked by restrictive laws that give precedence to the commercial and intellectual property rights of transnational companies over humanity's historic and sacred right to freely sow, reap and exchange natural seeds, saving seeds has become a political act.
Watch the video here https://vimeo.com/118038272/
At the fringes of our European societies that seem mostly blind to the threats to these fundamental resources, we find brave activists and practitioners from very diverse backgrounds, working in very diverse contexts, all of them ready to act in defence of our seeds.
SEED ACT consists of about 8 different acts or parts, each one allowing us to peek behind the scenes of an inspiring project or life's work in several corners of Europe, to discover who is acting to preserve our seed heritage and our right to seed. These are the people who dare to stand their ground despite a legal framework that increasingly criminalises those that save their own seeds, because they believe seeds are as much a precious as a public good.
Some Facts about Seeds...
Our close observation of the modern food system and its impact on agricultural ecosystems has led us to the frightening conclusion that the annihilation of our agro-biodiversity may be near. Some of the more obvious causes for this are the pollution and degradation of farm land and farm resources through the aggressive industrialisation of agriculture, which bets on small numbers of high-yielding plant varieties boosted by petrochemicals in a regime of monoculture and cash crops.
According to FAO, the intensification of agriculture has led to the disappearance of at least 75% of our edible plant varieties in just the past 100 years. This is a global problem: Mexico is losing its corn varieties, India is losing its rice, Europe has lost most of its traditional wheat varieties.
Unbeknownst to most people, another main contributing factor to the erosion of our crop diversity, is the progressive implementation of international intellectual property and trade agreements and laws that restrict the reproduction and sharing of traditional seeds, serving only the interests of industrial seed multinationals. These conventions protect the “rights” on the seeds developed in laboratories by a handful of seed corporations, while local and farm-saved seeds are subjected to ever more demanding criteria. Since natural seeds are inherently diverse – this being the reason why they have survived and adapted for millennia – they can't comply with industrial standards such as homogeneity and stability.
>> Tragically, homogeneity and stability was what contributed to the Great Famine in Ireland, which around the 1840's depended for most of its food on just a few varieties of potato that became susceptible to a blight. <<
It is estimated that around 75% of farmers worldwide still rely on saving their own seeds, an age-old practice. But the global assault by the agrochemical corporations and the powerful governments that back them, on the right to seed, is threatening the right to food itself, as pointed out by a recent study from the Berne Declaration about the impacts of the Plant Variety Protection Convention (UPOV).
The fascination of industry with hygiene, homogeneity, uniformity, simplicity and of course profit, has relegated our natural resources to the realm of artefacts, to be possessed by a few and traded as any other product in highly competitive markets.
But seeds are like life, they need freedom to express themselves, to evolve, to multiply, to adapt. They need to belong to everyone. When well cared for, seeds provide tremendous abundance, supplying us with most of the resources we need for our survival and comfort. But when stifled by rules and profit expectations, seeds lose their best characteristic: their capacity to adapt.
What we have done so far
It has been quite an adventure, filming in several different countries and on the road. From Portugal to France, with stops in Greece and Italy, and trips to Belgium, we have had the amazing opportunity to meet the most inspiring seed savers and seed defenders, famous (as in the case of Dr. Vandana Shiva and local heroes Dominique Guillet and Panagiotis Sainatoudis) and less famous (the peasant-miller-bakers of Longo Mai, the seed savers in Portugal), all of them inspiring. We followed them and documented their activities, creating the case studies that will be the ACTS in SEED ACT.
Three of the seed savers organisations that we were interested in (Peliti, Kokopelli and Navdanya) spontaneously thought up and managed to carry out the idea of an International Seed Caravan (https://seedfreedom.in/reports-from-the-caravan...
) starting in Greece and linking seed festivals in Greece, Italy and France. This suddenly presented a unique chance to meet the main characters of SEED ACT and see them in action, together! It also led to us encountering unexpected extra characters for the stories we are telling.
In October we decided to add an extra shoot about seed activism in Portugal and we followed two deeply engaged seed savers that are spreading literal and symbolic circles of seeds in Portugal.
We have currently completed the pre-production and production phases, having filmed enough inspiring situations and characters to create a 68'' film. We have also started creating musical compositions with musicians from different nationalities to develop the film's very own soundscape.
We now need to embrace the big task of editing the film, both video and sound, and create the promotion materials, including a website. If we have enough funding, we aim to release the documentary in early Summer 2015.
This documentary is intended to be an act in itself, one that we hope will help sprout imaginations, motivations and the engagement in the cause of seed freedom, through the real life examples of seed savers and defenders. Through the eyes of our seed heroines and heroes, we question the role of seeds and farming in our modern societies, the threats posed by intensive agriculture and highly concentrated global markets, and the impact of intellectual property right regimes on farm communities and on the right to seed.
We wish SEED ACT to be used as an inspiration, a window to a more nature-based and collaborative world, and as a tool for food advocacy and active citizenship.
The SEED ACT team consists of people who have already been engaged for a number of years in the reclaiming of our food and seed sovereignty. All of us consider food and farming to be at the core of the challenges that humanity is facing in the third millennium. All of us have gradually embraced more agro-ecological food habits over the years, including producing and/ or processing some of our own food. SEED ACT's director is becoming a seed saver herself, as well as the producer in France and Belgium, and both the director and the executive producer are organisers of the Portuguese Seed Freedom campaign. Many of the film's volunteers and supporters come from seed savers associations, community gardens or food activist groups, are part of the permaculture movement or have chosen the peasant's way of life.
We are making a film about what we ourselves believe in: that acting with and for traditional seeds might be the only way to keep them out of the claws of seed laws and monopolist seed corporations.
We have been working on this film with the voluntary colaboration of over ten professionals for the last two years, but now we need money contributions as a support to get this film to become a reality. We need your support to help fund this film! Here's all the info about the documentary and how you can contribute through our crowdfunding campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/seed-act-documentary-film/x/9820242