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Marc Loiselle (Canada)
I am sorry, I will have to try and cut down my presentation; five minutes is not very much time. My name is Marc Loiselle and I am an organic farmer from Canada. I have chosen to highlight two particular areas that are negatively effecting, especially, the Canadian farmers. I will also highlight a few things we are doing to address them.
The first issue that is being championed by the National Farmers’ Union of Canada, of which I am a member, is interesting. The NFU, made a recent media release to highlight the fact that biodiversity and food security are being undermined by what is called the Seed Sector Review in Canada. The review is an ambitious industry-led initiative to restructure Canada’s seed and grain quality assurance systems. The media release was done to coincide with the ‘Biodiversity for Food Security’ theme, chosen by the United Nations’ FAO for what was called the World Food Day, which happened on October 16th. The theme highlighted the importance of genetic diversity for a healthy and stable food supply; but, ironically, while the World Food Day theme celebrated farmers’ traditional function as stewards of seeds, governments in many parts of the world, including Canada, are introducing gene patent legislations, commercial seed contracts, and other forms of IPR, to undermine farmers’ ability to freely use and exchange seed from their own harvest. This is being done, despite the fact that the International Treaty on Planned Genetic Resources came into affect on June 2004, which recognizes the validity of farmed-saved seed. Unfortunately, many countries, including Canada, have yet to ratify the treaty. Currently, farmers who retain their seed, as common seed, from their own harvest can freely reuse, exchange, or sell their seed without payment of royalties.
The National Farmers’ Union pointed out in their press release that by reducing farmers’ protections on seed, it enhances the economic power of the four largest multinational seed companies: Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, and Dupont. I quote, ‘granting these large private companies ownership of genetic material through gene patents and commercial seed contracts effectively stifles public access to these important resources.’ On the 13th of May the NFU published a bulletin to its membership that warned members what is in store if the Seed Sector Review’s recommendations are brought forward. I will highlight a few of them: Be aware that there will be a collection of royalties on farm-saved seed. This money will go to corporations that develop seeds, not farmers who propagate them and do their own research. Be aware that farmers would be obligated to purchase certified seed, instead of saving their own. Be aware of the termination for a farmer’s right to sell common seed. Be aware that more powerful seed companies and more expensive seed will happen. Be aware that farmers will lose control. To a significant extent, he or she that controls the seed, controls agriculture. As the control of seed continually passes out of the hands of farmers, and into the hands of seed transnationals, farmers lose control, options and decision-making abilities. If the proposals made by the Seed Sector Review in Canada were implemented, farmers would lose control of their seeds.
Ultimately, the National Farmers’ Union is calling for enshrining a law, that protects farmers’ rights to save seed as well as strengthens public plant breeding programs. To this end they have launched the Seed Saver Campaign, an ambitious countrywide initiative whose objective is to have legislation passed which exempts farmers from paying royalties to seed and chemical companies. I was just at the FAO session on planned genetic resources, and they had obviously confirmed that Canada is a country, which has yet to ratify that protocol.
The second issue that I want to speak about is that as organic farmers in the province of Saskatchewan, we are doing something to address the increase in the proliferation of genetically modified seeds and crops. I am one over 1000 farmers that are involved in a class-action lawsuit against Monsanto and Bayer Crop Science. (Applause) Thank you. Because of their transgenic canola varieties, it is no longer possible to cultivate and market organic canola in the region of Canada, let alone any non-GMO canola. All seed stocks are contaminated to some level with genetically modified or transgenic seeds. I happen to be the communications and research director for the committee that oversees the lawsuit, and we hope in a few weeks to know whether or not the courts will allow us to proceed with our class-action lawsuit. We hope this will be a case that sets world precedence and forms a basis to which other transgenic seeds and crops will not be introduced into Canada or other countries. As we know, despite Monsanto’s withdrawal of their genetically modified wheat, we now have Syngenta, which is poised to introduce their own fusarium resistant genetically modified wheat. This is another battle that I and many other people, in Canada and across the world, will be fighting this year.
So, what not to do: Do not give into efforts to legitimize coexistence with genetically engineered crops, especially when it comes to organic and biodynamic food. It is simply not realistic to expect coexistence between the two. What to do? Please support our lawsuit and any other lawsuits or organizations like we have in Canada, the NFU and the Organic Directorate. Consumers need to send clear messages to their governments and promoters of transgenic seed and crops. One of the best ways to do this is to purchase certified organic, biodynamic, and ecological food – especially locally produced. This will send a clear message. It empowers farmers, producers and gardeners - and it does not empower companies like Monsanto.
Before I close, I would like to mention that the Slow Food presidium of Red Fife wheat growers in Canada is an example of empowerment. It has empowered farmers and the related community to do something to counter the culture of intellectual property rights and the philosophy that new is always better. We are using heritage varieties that have been found to be exceptionally good, provide the necessary biodiversity and a wealth of food, nutrition and taste. Thank you.

Kevin Dudley (Ireland)
Hello everyone, we’re from the Irish Seed Savers. We started in 1991 with an American lady, Anita Hayes, when we found out there was no actual collection of Irish varieties seeds. We started collecting then and now we have over 200 varieties of Irish apples, 400 varieties of vegetables in our own gene bank, 40 varieties of potatoes, and 45 varieties of grains. There were no Irish grains actually left in Ireland at that time and we had to go to the Vavilov Institute and other gene banks in Canada and around the world to reclaim these seeds and bring them back to Ireland. You would have thought with the history we have in Ireland with the dependence on a single crop, which was the potato, and the famine that happened because of reliance upon monoculture, that we would have embraced biodiversity. Unfortunately, we have not; it hasn’t happened really. We mainly grow cows with the result of foot and mouth disease and any other disease that the cows are going to get.
Seed saving is empowerment; it puts power back into the hands of the people – we don’t have to rely upon people to give us seeds, we don’t have to keep going back and buying seeds off of them anymore. But the thing is, we’ve sold out. We’ve lost it, particularly in Ireland – there are not many people who save their own seeds. We are mainly getting funding from the government, but in June 30, 1980, anyone in Europe would know, they amalgamated the seed list in Europe and we lost 1500 varieties of seeds overnight; they were deleted. From this, the dust lore has produced the distinct, uniform and stable legislation that all seeds to be sold have to come underneath this legislation. This disallowed the sale of seeds that aren’t registered, and registration is a costly endeavor; every year you have to reregister. So, even seed companies that are producing seeds, if they can’t sell these seeds, they get dumped. Even organic growers are relying more and more on what are called F-1 hybrids – so they keep having to go back to the source, back to the companies that sell the seeds. More and more the seed companies are being owned by multinationals and with multinationals you have the shareholders and no moral responsibility of what’s happening to the seeds.
The whole thing about the Seed Savers is the education and reeducation of people. Especially where we are in the north. Not so much the brothers and sister in the south, in Africa and India, where it is still a realization that the next crop has to come from the seeds you are saving. It is really easy for us in the west, or the north, to go down to the supermarket and buy a new packet of seeds and not actually think about where they come from. But most of these seeds are grown in North Africa. They are not classified as a food crop so they can be intensively sprayed with pesticides and fungicides. The result in saving those seeds is poor quality seeds. Another thing with the heritage varieties is they come from a time when there were less pesticides being used - especially the apples that we have; if they didn’t work, they were just cut down and burned. So these varieties have resistant genes that we can send into the future, for people in the future to hopefully use in breeding programs. Also, the reeducation of children – to actually teach them where food comes from: from the good soil and the good seeds, and how to produce their own seeds. This whole education program that we have started has been a slow, hard progress. So, where are we going in the future? We don’t really know because we are depending on funding. There is no profit in seed production - in the amount that we are doing. So, really it is just about working in the moment, hoping that something is going to happen in the future. Hoping that governments will actually realize the potential of all this genetic material that has been sent to us from the past. Then, hopefully, we can send it into the future and people will be able to use it to deal with whatever situations come up in the world and can produce good food in the future.

Pipo Lernoud (Argentina)
Bueno a mi me parece que muchas veces nos cuesta tener una visión global del tema semillas. Tenemos una visión global de los peligros que amenazan las semillas? Porque son claros para quien está cerca de la agricultura y también es global la organización que pone estas amenazas. Los productores, los agricultores y los consumidores que luchan contra el patentamiento y los organismos genéticamente modificados forman parte de varias organizaciones en varios países del mundo, con distintos idiomas y con distintas características culturales. Muchas veces estas están peleadas con las organizaciones de su mismo país y divididas, en cambio Monsanto tiene una sola campanna mundial, coherente, organizada, planificada a largo plazo, con expertos de marketing estrategias y planeamiento. Nosotros tenemos todo para perder. Pasa un poco lo mismo con las semillas frente a los consumidores. Los consumidores no tienen ni idea de esta batalla sorda que se está produciendo en el mundo, salvo unos consumidores más informados en los países desarrollados. En mi país, en Argentina, no tienen idea de esta batalla. Nosotros estamos trabajando con pequeños agricultores nativos de Argentina, de la zona andina, con productos como quinoa, amaranto y muchos productos nativos y trabajando en esto nos damos cuenta de cuanto estamos lejos de lo que realmente debería estar pasando y debería ser nuestro trabajo. Vendemos productos orgánicos y la gente quiere sólo 2 tipos de manzanas. Golden Delicious y manzana verde. No hay otras variedades, porque la gente ha sido educada a pedir estas dos cosas. La gente está ametrallada por este estrechamiento cultural que se refleja en el estrechamiento genético, en la erosión de nuestra base genética. Lo que yo veo es que tenemos una batalla muy fuerte, lo que está pasando en el planeta va a pasar de un agricultor defendiendose de Monsanto, es una batalla cultural para la recuperación de la diversidad en todos sus sentidos: en la cultura, en la forma de hablar, en los lenguajes y en las semillas que son la base de nuestra vida. En este momento para los productores orgánicos de todo el mundo hay otro problema, porque la gente que tiene conciencia de este tema y quiere producir semillas orgánicas, como muchos que seguramente están aquí, tienen enormes problemas de costo, de infraestructuras y solamente las grandes empresas de los países desarrollados (en Europa por ejemplo las grandes empresas semilleras son Olandesas) tienen la capacidad financiera y técnica para cumplir con toda la reglamentación que se exigen ahora a una semilla certificada orgánica. Los pequeños productores que han venido sosteniendo la diversidad biológica y científica de nuestra base alimenticia durante siglos no tienen la capacidad de cumplir con estas reglamentaciones. Así que tenemos que hacer un plan que vaya más allá de los muchos pequeños problemas que tenemos y encarar alguna estrategia global que pueda enfrentar este enemigo global que tenemos todos.

Margarita Vichniakova (Russia)
I am Margarita Vichniakova from the Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry from Russia. I would like to share some words about plant genetic diversity preservation for world food security. I realize that it is a very global title for such short presentation, and because of the technical difficulties, my presentation will be very brief.
Why plant genetic resources are so important: They are a key component of biodiversity, they are key for food security and conserving and using genetically diverse plants is vital for food production. The first person to understand the importance of genetic diversity in plants was the great Russian scientist Nicolai I. Vavilov. He was a great plant hunter and collector of genetic resources. His main task was to increase agricultural production and provide humankind with more food. He organized many expeditions all around the world and visited many countries, collecting seeds of local varieties, local plant races, and so on. All of these seeds are now located in Petersburg, in our institute – which he founded more then 80 years ago.
He made a theoretical basis for collecting all plant genetic resources. The principle he used to form his theoretical basis was to resolve problems of worldwide biodiversity preservation. The headquarters of our institute is located in Petersburg, as I already said. The main task of our institute is the conservation and utilization of crop diversity and support food and agriculture. After Vavilov, our scientists have organized collecting missions all around the world; almost all countries are explored in our collecting missions. Our collection in 1917 was only 300 accessions. Now it is more then 300,000 accessions. Since the 1970s many gene banks began organizing all over the world. Now, 1,600 gene banks around the world conserve 6.3 million of diverse crops. Our institute has the fourth largest count of accessions, but it is a unique collection because of its exonomic diversity. We have many accessions, which have been eliminated from their native locations, but we keep them in our collection. I had many tables I wanted to show you about the collections all over the world and tell about the reasons for the erosion of plant genetic resources: Ecology, calamities, activities of TNCs, and large seed companies, in the serialization and organization, for example. Local and ethnic wars are the reasons of genetic resources. For an impoverished man, the loss of heredity can cause irreversible damage to all human needs. In1992 the Convention on Biological Diversity held in Rio de Janeiro, one of the main tasks was conservation of biological diversity. The preservation of biodiversity is a common concern of mankind. It is very nice that many organizations, international, non-governmental, and governmental organizations worry about the preservation of plant genetic resources. Only by the means of joint efforts of the world community we can conserve and effectively use plant genetic resources for world food security.


Percy Schmeiser (Canada)
I come from Western Canada, the heart of grain growing area. I am actually more known now for my fight with Monsanto for six years in a legal battle that went all the way to Supreme Court of Canada. The decision of the supreme court of Canada will have a bearing on people from all countries of the world because it will be looked at because it was an issue on patent law.
What happened to me is that my canola fields got contaminated by Monsanto’s GMO canola against my wishes. My wife and I were seed developers, so we could not use our seed again. We stood up to Monsanto, at that time in the federal court of Canada, and said ‘you have contaminated our seeds and plants.’ It became a patent infringement case where Monsanto said it does not matter how your fields get contaminated, if you are an organic farmer or conventional farmer, like myself, you no longer own your seeds or plants they all become Monsanto’s ownership. So you could be anyone in the room here and in any country where Monsanto has a patent on seeds or plants, or a gene, and if your fields get contaminated you no longer own your seeds or plants. Now what happened – it went all the way to the supreme court of Canada and the decision came down on May 21st of this year, and this is what the supreme court ruled: Monsanto’s patent on a gene is allowed, and if that gene gets into any higher life form, and if you bring it right down to a human being – they own and control that life form. So if it gets into any seeds or plants, they own it. You might think it was a great victory for Monsanto – but it was not. Now they have the liability issue because they said that Monsanto now owns and controls, and with the control goes also the flow of the gene. If they can’t control it and it contaminates your fields, they are liable. Now, they had also gone after me, I mean Monsanto, they wanted of the profit from my 1998 crop from 1,030 acres, they wanted 2 million dollars for their court cost, they wanted me to also pay their technology charge which way 15 dollars an acre. They didn’t get one red cent from me and thank god for that! (Applause). In the future of seeds, if this is allowed to continue your pure seeds, or organic seeds can be contaminated overnight. We have lost many indigenous seeds, and as Mark has said, we no longer have pure canola seed in Canada, along with no more pure soybean seeds. This happened all within six years after the introduction. Any country or any region that introduces GMO, you have to remember there is no such thing as containment. You cannot contain seeds blowing in the wind, you cannot prevent cross-pollination and it will spread. So that means that there is no such thing, believe me as a farmer for fifty years, there is no such thing as coexistence. Once you introduce it – the GMO gene is the dominate gene – and it will take over whatever species of plants or seeds it gets into, and eventually everything will become GMOs. That is how serious it is and that is why you should never ever allow it. They always said, ‘well we’ll contain it, we’ll keep buffer strips.’ You cannot contain the wind, the birds, bees, and floods – so it will spread.
One final point I would like to make: If Monsanto is now liable for the damages it causes, the liability issue, my wife, who is an organic farmer, had some of her land contaminated and her shelterbelt with some of Monsanto’s GMO canola. Monsanto has said in the trials that if a farmer complains, they will come and remove the GMO canola plants. She notified Monsanto, and they did not come. So she had it removed by a university student – about three or four truck loads – and she sent Monsanto the bill. Monsanto refused to pay it. That was in the year 2002. in July of this year she sent Monsanto a final notice that if they would not pay it, she would take them to court. She got a nasty letter back form Monsanto that said if ‘you send anymore letters like this to us, we’ll lay a charge against you.’ That angered my wife and she laid a lawsuit against Monsanto, on the liability issue. The judge issued a summons against Monsanto in the end of August and last Monday my wife had Monsanto in court. So, Monsanto said they were not concerned about the amount of money it cost to remove the plants, but they were very concerned about the importance of the issue that now they would be liable for anyone who was contaminated with Monsanto’s GMOs. So, she was able to get Monsanto, a multi-billion dollar corporation, into court over a very small bill. Monsanto said on Monday in the court, ‘give us five months we have to put a legal defense together to fight this issue.’ Again, don’t ever introduce GMOs, because once you do it will become all GMOs.

Kent Whealy (United States)
I am Kent Whealy, the director of the Seed Saver Exchange, which I founded in 1975 in Decorah, Iowa. We now have 8,000 members in the US and several hundred in Canada. I didn’t bring any slides because I didn’t think I would have time, but I did bring about 30 or 40 catalogues. I am going to suggest that all of you go to our website: www.seedsavers.org. It tells all about our projects and all about the Heritage Farm.
I’ve got five minutes to tell you my 30-year story, but I would like to suggest that it could possibly be a model that many other people could build on: to build a seed bank of local material and then maintain it and distribute it. I actually began all of this work because my wife’s grandfather gave us two varieties that his parents had brought from Bavaria in the 1870’s. We started calling these varieties ‘heirlooms’ - I first used that term in a speech in 1981. We weren’t sure how extensive these varieties might be, how many other people might be keeping seeds that their families brought with them when the immigrated. What we found over the years is that there is a tremendous heritage of this kind of material in the US and Canada. I mean, the US and Canada are nation of immigrants and gardeners and farmers invariably brought their seeds with them as a way to continue to enjoy the foods that they loved and as a sort of living link to the old country. So, this material has been building for four centuries in our country; we have seeds in our collection that supposedly came over on the Mayflower and you can be sure that there are seeds being brought in today with the immigrants coming from Mexico, Cuba and Haiti. A lot of this material has been kept on family farms and within ethnic enclaves. When we go into areas that are really isolated, such as the Ozarks, the Smokies, and the Appalachians, we find tremendous amounts of this material. There is also religious isolation, of course, so we see a lot of this material with Amish, Mennonite, and Native American gardeners – but it had never been systematically collected, so that’s what we started to do in 1975.
We started a little six-page newsletter that had 29 members the first year. That has grown into a 400-page book (holds up book) that lists over 1,000 of our members names, addresses and the seeds that they are making available. Folks read through this, find something they may like to try then send a small payment for postage and handling directly to that person. In 1981 we started to maintain a central seed collection. We were given a large collection of beans by a fellow named John Withy who had collected 1,200 varieties within the northeast of the US over a 14-year period. That collection has grown to 25,000 varieties that we are maintaining. We are maintaining over 5,000 different tomatoes, over 4,000 different beans, 2,000 peppers, 1,200 lettuces, 1,000 peas, 600 corns, 300 types of garlic and on and on. In 1986 we purchased a 170 acre farm that we call ‘Heritage Farm’ and that was really a turning point for our organization – when we brought our products out onto the land, so that people could see them. Then we were able to show people hundreds of varieties that they had never seen before and say ‘this is your true heritage as gardeners and a lot of this material would already be extinct if it wasn’t for gardeners like yourselves.’ You have to be able to show people that incredible beauty because that is what really touches their hearts.
At Heritage Farms we have several different genetic preservation projects. We have preservation gardens that we use as a back up for our members’ efforts. We also have a historic orchard – at the turn century there were 7,000 name varieties of apples in the US we can only find 700 in the large collections now. We are also maintaining an ancient breed of cattle called the Ancient White Park. Seed Savers and Heritage Farms have served as the models for organizations and projects in over 30 countries. We are completely certified organic as of two years ago. We have 43 gardens in 23 acres. We try to grow ten percent of each crop on a ten-year rotation and we bring a lot of the best of that material into evaluative garden. We have developed a seed catalogue that now lists about 600 varieties, almost all of them in bulk - about a quarter of those are certified organic and that number is going up constantly. We’ve got about a 2 million dollar annual budget, about a quarter of that comes from membership fees, a quarter from grants, and now half of it comes from sales. We are quite concerned with GMO contamination of seed collections; we’ve just purchased a large property and we are scattering isolation gardens down through these narrow valleys. Two-thirds of the world’s people exist on what they are able to grow. An estimated 1.4 billion people depend on farm-saved seeds. Seeds are the birthright of every gardener and farmer in the world. Look at difference between approaches: Monsanto is doing everything they can genetically, with their terminator technology, to prevent farmers from saving their own seeds. All of us here are trying to empower those same farmers and gardeners with the seeds that are, indeed, our birthright. Seeds should be free for all of us to use and to enjoy. I mean, we are really blessed with an incredible cornucopia of crops. But it is a really fragile chain. Seeds are link in an ancient chain and what we’re talking about here is true stewardship. It would be really tragic if all of this material were to die out right now. We have to do everything we can to save it because seeds are sacred.

Domingo Santos (México)
Buenas tardes a todos. Hay que agradecer a la empresa Slow Food de habernos dado esta oportunidad de intercambiar conocimientos que de aquí llevaremos a México. Yo vengo a hablar acerca del maíz, de la importancia del maíz en México. Por su importancia nutricional y económica el maíz ocupa el primer lugar en la alimentación de los mexicanos. La vida diaria de los campesinos gira alrededor del ciclo de la planta. El maíz es herencia del México antiguo. Lo comemos todos los días del año. Los habitantes de México antiguo supieron sacar provecho de toda la planta del maíz: los cabellos los usaron como medicina, de sus tallos preparaban bebidas fermentadas, lo que queda de la planta después de la cosecha lo emplearon como abono. Actualmente se siguen usando las hojas del maíz, con ellas se preparan muchos platillos: tamales, atoles, posoles, pasteles, cremas, enchiladas, quesadillas, chalupas, tacos y, el rey de todos, la tortilla.
La industria moderna utiliza maíz para mieles, aceites, alcohol, medicamentos, hasta plásticos. En la mayoría de las casas mexicanas se utiliza como alimento diario, incluso se utiliza como plato, cuchara y servilleta a veces. En México, en cada uno de nuestros estados se utiliza para exquisitos tamales con atole en el desayuno. En unas reuniones especiales, fiestas patrias, graduaciones, cumpleaños, por la noche para cenar. Muchas gracias a todos.

Mirco Marconi (Italia)
Io non rappresento un’associazione di seedsavers, sono un insegnante e quindi vi parlerò del versante didattico ed educativo della mia esperienza. È ricorso spesso, negli interventi precedenti, il tema della necessità di far comprendere ai consumatori la questione della biodiversità. Io insegno in una scuola particolare, un Istituto Agrario, quindi una scuola superiore. L’Italia è disseminata di questi istituti in tutte le province e questi istituti spesso hanno delle collezioni storiche di varietà, soprattutto di piante da frutto, che molto spesso sono state dimenticate, vengono utilizzate come museo internamente alle scuole e non sono fatte conoscere all’esterno, praticamente non sono di nessuna utilità. Noi abbiamo fatto qualcosa di diverso, forse avrete visto all’ingresso l’esposizione di zucche, siamo stati noi a realizzarla. Lo stimolo ci è venuto 4 o 5 anni fa da una cosa animale: abbiamo la fortuna di avere nelle nostre stalle gli ultimi esemplari di una varietà di vacca rossa, che è quella con cui mille anni fa nella nostra zona è nata la produzione del Parmigiano Reggiano. Questo animale rischiava di estinguersi, negli anni ’80 c’erano meno di 100 capi, poi c’è stato un lento processo di recupero, oggi siamo a 2000 capi, non siamo ancora fuori pericolo. Proprio quest’anno il Parmigiano Reggiano fatto con il latte di queste mucche è diventato presidio Slow Food.
Il fatto di aver avuto quest’esperienza, che in Italia è diventata un caso nazionale, ci ha dato lo stimolo di fare qualcosa di diverso ed abbiamo scoperto di avere un tesoro nei nostri campi: una collezione di antiche varietà di vitigni, che nella nostra zona sono quasi tutti estinti, si tratta di 50 varietà diverse, 50 cultiver. Queste uve, nella vendemmia, venivano mischiate con tutte le altre ed andavano disperse. Nel 2002 abbiamo deciso di fare un vino solo con queste uve ed abbiamo avuto la fortuna che questo vino sia capitato quasi per caso tra le mani di Luigi Veronelli, il più conosciuto critico enologico italiano, che ne ha scritto molto bene, innamorandosi anche del progetto, e ci ha dato il massimo del punteggio della sua guida, il sole. Quindi il vino è diventato famoso, ne abbiamo venduto parecchio e questo ci ha dato le risorse economiche per piantare nuovi vigneti, sempre di varietà antiche e tradizionali. Da qui siamo passati, siccome riceviamo molte visite di studenti e di scuole elementari o medie che vengono a visitare i nostri campi, abbiamo pensato di produrre una raccolta di ortaggi che desse proprio l’idea visiva ed immediata di cosa significhi biodiversità. Abbiamo pensato alle zucche, anche perché si conservano diversi mesi e sono molto importanti nella gastronomia locale. Quindi ci siamo messi al lavoro con i ragazzi delle scuole. Le zucche hanno poi creato una mostra che ha girato in lungo e in largo ed è arrivata qui. Vogliamo fare di più e quindi ci siamo concentrati sulla nostra varietà, quella tipica della zona, una delle prime ad essere arrivate in Europa, per riprodurre in purezza questo seme. Siamo andati a cercarlo dai contadini che ancora lo avevano. Questa è una varietà che non è registrata, sarebbe fuorilegge, ma le zucche non rappresentano un grande business e quindi nessuno ci viene a dire nulla. L’idea è di riprodurre in purezza questi semi e farne un presidio Slow Food. Un’operazione simile la vogliamo fare con i nostri meloni tradizionali, che non coltiva più nessuno. Per fare questo abbiamo pensato anche all’aspetto commerciale. Con l’aiuto di un amico grafico pubblicitario, abbiamo inventato un logo, l’antica misura del territorio utilizzata nella nostra provincia, un po’ di folder e ci siamo accordati con un piccolo supermercato che vende prodotti di qualità nella zona vicino a noi, che ci ha dato uno spazio per tutta l’estate per vendere questa frutta e verdura di antiche varietà. L’interesse dei media e dei consumatori è stato altissimo e devo dire che non siamo riusciti a produrre abbastanza per soddisfare la domanda. Ecco credo che questo sia un piccolo esempio di come si può far conoscere questa tematica.

Romesh Damala (Nepal)
I am Romesh Damala from Nepal. I think a lot of people do not know where Nepal is. Nepal is south of China and North of India. It is a small country. We have a lot of mountains and hills, at high elevations. After vegetation we have problems with marketing. You people are talking about slow food, our problem is hybrids and fast food. In Nepal 84 percent of people are depending on farming, only 16 percent of people are involved in business, etc. Our people have a lot of organic food, and still today, 40 percent of the people do not know about fast food – they need to survive just from the ‘slow food.’ Because of the poverty, we don’t have transportation. There are all of those regions we call the Himalayan zones, in the mountains. Transportation in the zones is a challenge; that is why still 35-40 percent of people are getting only organic food. We are so strong. I think you have heard about the sherpas, those who climb up Mt Everest. We are facing problems. We didn’t have a seed bank in Nepal - in the past few years we got it, due to the subsidies from the UNDP and the World Bank. But now, I think you have heard about all of the political problems in Nepal? Due to that we are not getting a lot of funding. It is a developing country. Our major problems are education, health, hygiene, security, etc. The meantime, I would like to focus - we need to control the hybrids – only control them. We don’t need to know the highlights of ‘Slow Food’ because we already have it. I think you will be surprised to hear it. This is the first time we are hearing that you people are making this Slow Food conference between the 120 countries and among the 5,000 people. We are glad for the invitation from those who invited us to this conference. Today we know that there is a group who is discussing ‘slow food.’ It is very important for human beings – we are always focusing on fast - doing everything fast. We are always on the computer – everything is inside the computer. We are always calculating time for work, but never calculating time for food. This is why we thought this might be one of the most successful conferences for Nepalese people – we need to be involved in this workshop. So we decided to come here. By the way, it is not easy for us to get a visa to come into a developed country. Our problem is poverty, I told you – all of that high development is hard. People think, when we get a visa we will start to work in the developed countries as a beggar – but it is not true. But what can we do? This is the hardest among the people. That is the reason that we didn’t get our visas until October 18th. We didn’t have the chance to prepare all of those nice presentations. I visit producers in Nepal. Since last year I have had the chance to work with an NGO from Seed Savers in Canada, with a woman named Sharon Rempel who told me ‘you know your country is one of the best countries regarding organic food. Why don’t you try collect your seeds and distribute them to other countries?’ and I asked ‘how can I?’ and she recommended this conference. Luckily I have the chance to participate with you. What I am going to ask now – we are looking to control the hybrids and we would like the opportunity to give and share our organic food. We don’t have a market. I told you our major problem is transportation. Some of you have been in Nepal; all of those mountainous zones – in any of them - there are nice apple gardens. You can’t compare the apples from there to the ones here, you know because of the Himalayan nature. Our nature and water resources provide us with vegetables, corn, rice - many kinds of seeds, but the problem is, is that we do not have a market. Our farmers are not educated; the percentage of literacy is only now 72 percent. All of those people who are illiterate are the farmers and, in this conference - I have to tell you those of us who got visas, it was because we speak English. The real farmers and real producers they didn’t get visas because they are unable to speak English. We are thinking we are the poorest of the poor. That is why I asked him (moderator Marcello Buiatti) if I could present myself. I thank you all for giving us this chance and to the next conference I will bring seeds from the Himalayan areas that we produce in Nepal.

Domenico Calicchio (Italia)
Io sono italiano e vengo da una vallata del meridione, da provincia a sud di Napoli. Ho ascoltato con grande interesse gli interventi precedenti e sono sempre più convinto che le problematiche che riguardano i contadini siano diverse da zona a zona, da nazione a nazione. È impossibile, secondo me, trovare un fronte comune di scontro con chi vuole i fast food o vuole un’agricoltura diversa da quella che noi proponiamo. C’è però alla base un legame che congiunge tutte queste agricolture: i semi.
Nella mia vallata c’è l’agricoltura di montagna, quella di collina e quella di pianura: ognuna ha tematiche diverse, problematiche diverse. Io devo ringraziare la magia dei semi, perché hanno cambiato la mia vita. I semi appartengono al territorio in cui si trovano, ai cittadini di quel territorio, nessuno li può prendere perché sarebbe immorale. I contadini ne sono le vestali, ne sono i custodi, custodiscono la cultura dei semi territorio per territorio. Questa convinzione mi ha spinto a realizzare con il mio Comune, non è stato facile, la banca dei frutti e dei semi antichi. Ho trovato nella mia vallata 40 semi orticoli, ho individuato 9 aziende che rimettono in produzione i semi anno per anno, con un disciplinare di produzione che abbiamo fatto, e conservano questi semi come li conservavano i nostri contadini antichi, con la cultura che avevano i nostri contadini. Conserviamo i semi mischiati alle foglie di noce, che fungono da antiparassitario. Ho realizzato nel mio terreno un campo catalogo sulle fruttifere, 40 varietà di meli autoctoni, 46 di peri, 45 vitigni. Però non ci illudiamo: è difficile. È difficile portare sui mercati una mela che non luccica, o dei piselli che non sono stati elaborati in un laboratorio per ottenere il colore esatto che invita a comprare, è difficile portare i pomodori che faccio io a 100 kilometri! Perché i pomodori che faccio io hanno la buccia sottilissima, si perdono per strada! Mentre i pomodori che fanno ora hanno 15 giorni per essere portati sui mercati senza che si rovinino, ne hanno modificato la buccia, che ora è più grande del pomodoro stesso! E tutti i problemi di gastrointeriti che abbiamo nel nostro territorio, o probabilmente in tutta Italia, sono dovuti proprio a queste modificazioni, perché non è digeribile una buccia spessa. Noi abbiamo questi problemi. Che cosa stiamo facendo per sopperire a queste difficoltà? Abbiamo fatto i marchi DECO, i marchi comunali, che prevedono il disciplinare di produzione e che prevedono i controlli.
Abbiamo parlato di consumatori: i consumatori distruggono. Abbiamo parlato di cooproduttori: noi abbiamo inventato il paniere. Abbiamo detto al signore che deve mangiare i nostri prodotti: “Vieni e fai un accordo con noi. Noi ti prepariamo un paniere, lo paghi di meno” perché bisogna ridurre i costi “e tu ti rendi conto di quello che produciamo”. Poi dobbiamo fare i presidi! Le comunità del cibo devono avere dei presidi. Noi abbiamo il broccolo di rapa che Veronelli ci ha riconosciuto e ha scritto al mio sindaco chiedendogli perché non facesse un marchio comunale sul broccolo di rapa. Il mio sindaco non si era reso conto che aveva sul territorio quest’emergenza fortissima, glie l’ha scritto uno da Bergamo. Tutte le comunità, mi riferisco al signore del Nepal che è intervenuto ed è molto arrabbiato, e ha ragione, devono difendersi nei territori, dove è possibile. Dobbiamo partire dal territorio, da quello che abbiamo nella terra, per arrivare per arrivare a quello che sta su. La battaglia è lunga, ma ce la possiamo fare.

Maria Grazia Mammuccini (Italia)
Io vorrei portare l’esperienza di un governo regionale, il governo della regione Toscana, per illustrare il nostro vissuto al fianco degli agricoltori toscani per il recupero delle varietà locali e delle semente. Vi vorrei informare che la Toscana è stata la prima regione, nel 1999, a fare una legge che vietasse la coltivazione di piante geneticamente modificate nel nostro territorio. In questo momento sta finendo la moratoria dell’Unione Europea sulle coltivazioni di OGM e noi stiamo lavorando per mantenere la nostra regione OGM free.
Insieme a questo abbiamo lavorato per recuperare le varietà e le razze locali a rischio di estinzione nella nostra regione, perché, come tutte le regioni dei paesi industrializzati, abbiamo visto la scomparsa di moltissima varietà e razze locali. Con una legge del 1997 della regione Toscana, che aveva inizialmente una finalità puramente scientifica, abbiamo istituito la Banca Regionale del Germoplasma che agisce in collaborazione con questa figura che è definita agricoltore custode. La conservazione delle varietà e dei semi è fatta in questo caso attraverso la Banca Regionale del Germoplasma, che mantiene ex situ le sementi, e gli agricoltori custodi fanno parte della rete per riprodurre nel territorio d’origine quelle sementi e per alimentare poi la Banca stessa, per rendere disponibili queste sementi per altri agricoltori locali interessati al loro utilizzo. In questi anni abbiamo individuato 626 fra razze e varietà, di cui 511 a rischio di erosione genetica; le principali sono specie legnose da frutto, ma abbiamo anche un numero consistente di erbacee e sementi.
Al momento stiamo approvando una nuova legge finalizzata in primis a recepire quanto contenuto nel Trattato Internazionale sulle Risorse Fitogenetiche della FAO del 2001. Gli elementi importanti di questa nuova legge sono: la tutela giuridica di tutte queste varietà da possibili brevetti, individuando tutte queste razze e varietà locali come patrimonio della Regione Toscana. Quindi è la regione che tutela per conto delle comunità locali, ma rende disponibili le sementi alle comunità locali stesse. Un’altra cosa importante che questa nuova legge cerca di istituire con la Banca del Germoplasma, i coltivatori custodi e tutti gli agricoltori che intendono utilizzare e riprodurre le sementi locali, è la Rete di Conservazione e Sicurezza delle Sementi. Qui si sancisce un altro principio molto importante, cioè quello che all’interno della Rete lo scambio è libero. Si sancisce quindi una disponibilità di queste sementi fra gli agricoltori. C’è poi il Registro delle Varietà da Conservazione, con il quale si cerca di favorire la commercializzazione delle sementi prodotte, ed adatte al territorio locale, da parte delle piccole aziende. Ormai solo le multinazionali possono permettersi di produrre semi secondo le normative vigenti. Questa legge facilita le piccole realtà sul territorio. L’ultima cosa che questa legge cerca di fare è quella d’istituire un contrassegno regionale che verrà distribuito solo ad aziende agricole che producono, trasformano e commercializzano direttamente in azienda. Queste aziende agricole dovranno fornire al consumatore la garanzia che una determinata varietà è a rischio di estinzione. Il consumatore, comprandola, favorirà la riproduzione di quella varietà attraverso nuovi mercati. In questo modo, incentivando il rapporto tra coltivatore e consumatore, cerchiamo di aiutare gli agricoltori che producono queste varietà a vendere i loro prodotti e, nello stesso tempo, a favorire la reintroduzione attraverso la coltivazione.

Vinod Bhatt Khumar (India)
The previous speakers have already given insight about the importance of seed saving. I am Vinod Bhatt I am associated with Navdanya, a movement for biodiversity conservation and organic farming. We are working in 12 states in India in association with several organizations. We were able to conserve over 2,000 rice varieties in different parts of India, not only rice varieties but also wheat, pulses, pseudo-cereals, millet and so on. We have been working in the field of biodiversity conservation and organic farming for the last 17-years. Of course, Dr. Vandana Shiva is quite well known so she is our main trustee. India is another farmers’ country more then 70percent farmers. They make their living from fields, so seed is very important for farmers. What happened in the green revolution, also in India, we lost to the hybrid seeds – they were given more importance by government officials as well as by the companies – so we lost diversity. For example, of paddy, we had more then 50,000 varieties in India, but now unfortunately we have only a few varieties, which are cultivated on a large scale. But Navdanya was able to save over 2,000varieties in different parts of India in the last 17years. We believe that farmers are the best scientists and can save the seeds. They do not need to be taught how to save seeds. History of agriculture in the last 10,000 years shows that farmers have been able to breed and save the varieties. So with Navdanya we are trying to save which ever seeds have been left in the corners of the country. Recently in talks with the government and policy makers we were able to make one small state in the north of India, Uttaranchal, a GM-free state – which is one-step towards this big battle against GMs. I think with our partners and groups, so many of them are sitting in this hall. We have recently decided that by 2007 10percent of India will be changed into GM-free zones. These areas will be free of hybrids and chemicals and free of patents – so we are also fighting against patents.
We were also able to reintroduce forbidden food in different parts of the country. Millets and pseudo cereals, which are very, very nutritious, but people because of the influence of the green revolution and what I like to call the rice and wheat call, people felt shy (embarrassed) to eat their own food. I think this is not good, and we have been able to reintroduce these millets and these pseudo-cereal varieties with the farmers. Now they are growing these varieties, they are going back to their culture, they’re making different produce with that. Now all over the country people are growing these varieties of millets, pseudo cereal, and pulses.

Ana Paola De La Vega (México)
Buenas tardes, un cordial saludo a todos desde México. Somos muy complacidas de que en este importante encuentro impulsado por una organización tan reconocida como Slow Food se haya visto conveniente organizar una mesa de discusión sobre las semillas. Nosotras en México organizamos una asociación civil que se llama Canasta de semillas. Nos dedicamos a promover la producción, comercialización y conservación de semillas orgánicas en México comenzando por las hortalizas que es la prioritaria. En nuestro país, como en mucho de los vuestros, la situación del campo es crítica y se caracteriza por la creciente pobreza, migración, hogares encabezados por mujeres, agotamiento de las tierras, graves problemas en las áreas de la producción y comercialización de los productos del campo. Falta de mercados regionales, pérdida de la biodiversidad y de los conocimientos ancestrales para el manejo sustentable de los recursos naturales. Nuestra meta es lograr mejores condiciones de subsistencia y de desarrollo de las comunidades campesinas, así como ayudar a recuperar y conservar especies y variedades criollas e indígenas de todos los cultivos posibles. La vía es lograr que los campesinos, que son los principales sujetos interesados, se apropien de este proyecto. Para esto estamos organizando el mercado para la producción, comercialización y distribución de semillas orgánicas en México, propiciando una emplantación de un modelo de desarrollo incluyente, integral, sustentable y con perspectiva de genero. El modelo Canasta de semillas tiene como componente fundamentales las reservas bio-regionales de semillas que se encuentran en red de reservas, mismas que a su vez promueven tanto el establecimiento de huertas familiares como el establecimiento de bancos de semillas comunitario.
En nuestra página de internet que es www.canastasdesemillas.org pueden ustedes informarse sobre todos los avances; hay un foro de discusión para poder consensuar una metodología para la implementación de este modelo: les invitamos a participar en el. Para llevar a cabo las acciones tendientes a promover el desarrollo rural y recuperar la seguridad alimentaria, así como recuperar la riqueza natural de México y de otros países como el nuestro, se requiere de la construcción de puentes de entendimiento que promuevan la colaboración entre las familias campesinas, las organizaciones activas en la producción orgánica, tanto de la sociedad civil, como empresarial, la academia y las instancias gubernamentales. Nosotras en Canasta de semillas nos dedicamos a construir estos puentes y es una de las razone por la que nos dirigimos a ustedes en esta ocasión. Estamos muy interesadas en establecer la relación entre la producción, comercialización y conservación de semillas orgánicas. Nos interesa sobre todo las discusiones y todas las conclusiones que se puedan obtener de esta mesa y el contacto en el futuro con todos ustedes.

Marcello Buiatti (Italia)
We have been listening to many very interesting experiences of conservation of many varieties and genetic variability. We have not heard very many experiences where this conservation is coupled with commercialization and valorization of our patrimony of genetic variability. My comments are directed toward what the Napalese guy was saying, because I think it is very important. There are two areas which we are now in the shape to tackle because there are so many organizations doing this work. Now the first area is to try and help each other for the valorization and the spreading of genetic variability, for the sake of those people who have only those two varieties of anything to eat, and the people who are cultivating and growing these varieties because they also have to eat. For eating and having clothing, etc. people need to commercialize some of their stuff.
The other area where we can start working is to have some institutional support to this kind of conservation. Until now, in many countries this has been only voluntary, I would say heroic, which is save the patrimony which is very important for all of humanity - saving the local patrimony, patrimony is saving the whole patrimony. Then we need laws: Laws against GMOs, laws changing the patent system, and laws to protect against the patent system. I will just point one point out on how to protect ourselves from the patent system – one good way is to describe very well what we have, because if we describe it and it is published, then it can not be patented anymore. This is not a simple thing, because it has to be described in a way that in the courts you will win against the patenter. It can be done, though; it has been done. The story of the Neem Tree in India is like this. They proved that all of the knowledge of the Neem Tree already existed in tradition and history. For conservation, you have what the regional government of Tuscany has been doing: writing and implementing laws, which help the conservers – the custodians, as we call them, by helping them with money, helping them to exchange ideas with each other. Also to valorize; we are here with Slow Food, who has the Presidium which helps to valorize at the local, national and also international level the beauty and goodness of what we have been conserved for thousands of years, because agriculture has been around for 10,000years. Now these things are valuable, and they also have to be a little valuable in terms of money because the people who live there, they have to survive. The Nepalese delegate was very right: we have to find international methods for exchange of this material, and for helping people who cannot pays the fees for the transportation to have some subsidies from the international communities and international agencies. But not subsidies where somebody goes on the back of the subsidies to make somebody patent this thing - subsidies without patenting and without imposing labels using economic and other kinds of force. So, I think we have the strength to do this, for this movement is quite vast. We have a small representation here, but it is already quite a representation. If this movement gets connected with this idea of the website – which is a very good idea – we can make links to exchange ideas on how to do these things. How, in each community, to form laws, subsidies, and use neighboring resources to help the people who are conserving and also to help the people eat and live.
We can make this other world possible by using very concrete terms. I love poetry, it is very important, but behind poetry you have to have the money to eat and the freedom to think in poetic terms. So, we have to have very concrete proposals. They are coming up – there are some things which are winning – the GMO battle here in Europe – seven countries now want to revise the coexistence directive. There are many regional governments that do not want GMOs in their region. Tuscany was the first to start a movement of regional governments in Europe, to establish GMO-free regions because, as many of you said, it is impossible to have real coexistence.
 
 
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