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Preview launch of Seeds of Freedom

Dame Vivienne Westwood, Zac Goldsmith MP, Sir Julian Rose, Patrick Holden and Jonathan Porrit were amongst the guests who joined The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network for the private preview launch of Seeds of Freedom last week. You can watch the trailer for the film by visiting www.seedsoffreedom.info

The event was held at the Garden Museum in central London on Monday 28th May, with a screening followed by short presentations from Liz Hosken, Director of The Gaia Foundation, Gathuru Mburu, Coordinator of the African Biodiversity Network (Kenya), Mphatheleni Makaulule of The Mupo Foundation (South Africa), Pete Riley of GM Freeze and Patrick Holden, former head of the Soil Association. The weather held and it was a wonderful evening and fitting launch for an important film. You can check out pictures from the launch on the seeds of freedom website by clicking here. We're now less than a week away from the international online launch of the film, which will be free to watch and download from Tuesday 12th June.

Rob Percival, a freelance journalist and guest blogger for The Gaia Foundation, attended the launch and has written about the critical messages which the film draws out. Read his article here.

Actor Jeremy Irons, who is narrating the film, was unable to attend the event but sent a message which was read by Zac Goldsmith.

"I'm delighted to have been asked to narrate this important film. I think that it carries a critical message, at a critical time. We are on the brink of losing a vast wealth of diversity in our food system…and we'll lose it to the hands of just a few corporations, who give us only the illusion of choice on our shelves.

Through this story you'll see how the diversity of seed across the planet is what gives us our resilience, particularly as the climate changes. It's also what meets the varied nutritional needs that keep the world's population healthy, and keeps culturally diverse traditions alive. Who'd have thought that a small seed could say so much?" Jeremy Irons

You can find out more about the film below and by visiting www.seedsoffreedom.info


Synopsis

Seeds of Freedom charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional, diversity rich farming systems across the world, to being transformed into a powerful commodity, used to monopolise the global food system.

The film highlights the extent to which the industrial agricultural system, and genetically modified (GM) seeds in particular, has impacted on the enormous agro-biodiversity evolved by farmers and communities around the world, since the beginning of agriculture. Seeds of Freedom seeks to challenge the mantra, promoted by the pro-GM lobby, that large-scale, industrial agriculture is the only means by which we can feed the world. In tracking the story of seed it becomes clear how corporate agenda has driven the take over of seed in order to make vast profit and control of the food global system.

Through interviews with leading international experts such as Dr Vandana Shiva and Henk Hobbelink, and through the voices of a number of African farmers, the film highlights how the loss of indigenous seed goes hand in hand with loss of biodiversity and related knowledge; the loss of cultural traditions and practices; the loss of livelihoods; and the loss of food sovereignty. The pressure is growing to replace the diverse, nutritional, locally adapted and resilient seed crops which have been bred by small-scale farmers for millenia, by monocultures of GM seed.

More about the film

The film provides an overview of the history of agriculture, charting the transition of the farm into a factory, and highlighting the impact of the agro-chemical and GM industries. Since industry turned its attention to farming at the beginning of the 20th century, there has been an accelerating interest in agriculture for big business. The surpluses of chemicals following the first and second world wars in Europe led to the chemical industry finding a new route to profit through the farm. They discovered that subtle chemical alterations to explosive and nerve agents enabled them to re-package these war chemicals into fertilisers and pesticides for crops. Later, marrying up specific chemical fertilisers and pesticides with hybrid seed furthered the potential for profit, ensuring that farmers must buy both seed and fertiliser for maximum yield. Increasingly the hybrid seeds were only able to produce a yield once, thereby forcing farmers to buy seed and chemicals each year, and moving farmers away from their traditional practices of seed selection, saving and exchange.

Seeds of Freedom seeks to give a voice to the global south, and to those farmers and communities who are now some of the most vulnerable to the corporate (and often governmental) agenda for the adoption GM seed. Africa is now a prime target for the GM industry. On 18th May 2012 both Syngenta[1] and Monsanto[2] (the two leading GM seed corporations) released press information about increasing their commitments to agricultural development in Africa, investing $1 billion and $50 million respectively.

Despite the propaganda, in 2008, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report (a study by over 400 scientists from around the world), showed that small-scale farmers feed 70% of the world's population[3]. The report concluded that agro-ecological farming practices should shape the future of agriculture, and that farmers have intelligently cultivated their own locally adapted, resilient seed for millennia. The film's contributors are calling on farmers and consumers around the world to join forces with the growing global movement calling for Food Sovereignty - the right and responsibility to maintain our diverse culturally appropriate, ecologically adapted and ethically produced foods.

Alongside speakers from indigenous farming communities, the film features global experts and activists Dr Vandana Shiva of Navdanya, Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN, Zac Goldsmith MP (UK Conservative party), Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace International, Gathuru Mburu of the African Biodiversity Network, Liz Hosken of The Gaia Foundation and Caroline Lucas MP (UK Green party).

This film is co-produced by The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network, in collaboration with local partner MELCA Ethiopia, Navdanya International and GRAIN International




[1] http://www.syngenta.com/global/corporate/en/news-center/news-releases/Pages/120518.aspx

[2] http://monsanto.mediaroom.com/2012-05-18-Monsanto-Announces-50-Million-Commitment-To-African-Agricultural-Development-At-Symposium-On-Global-Agriculture-And-Food-Security

[3]http://www.agassessment.org/reports/IAASTD/EN/Agriculture%20at%20a%20Crossroads_Global%20Report%20(English).pdf