We recently received the latest issue of the Permaculture Activist magazine, published by Peter Bane and his team. It is another excellent issue, dedicating the whole magazine to Seeds. As the editorial by John Wages summed up, “the question of heirlooms and hybrids is largely a question of democracy and local control…Without the ability to make our own decisions, including economic ones, democracy is a sham.” The magazine is worth reading from cover to cover.
This reminds us of the current supreme court case in which an organic farmer Steve Marsh from Kojonup, southeast of Perth, is suing his neighbour who is alleged to have contaminated his farm with GM canola seeds. Steve lost his organic certification with the certifying body, the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) which has a zero tolerance for GM material.
Monsanto’s GM canola has been popular among the farmers in WA since the state government approved it in 2010, with sales of canola seed up by almost 40 per cent last year. The Western Australia’s farmers’ peak body, WA Pastoralists and Graziers Association was backing Steve’s neighbour in the court, arguing for the “choice in agriculture and the advantages of new technologies.” In Australia, Monsanto’s Round-up® ready GM canola is allowed to be grown not just in WA, but also in NSW and Vic. It is claimed that Monsanto is backing the GM farmer’s case as well.
This court case is the first such legal case in the world and has big ramifications. As the Canadian Global Mall article puts it, “(i)t may influence the standard industry protocols for handling GM crops in future, the definition of what constitutes an “organic” product, and how farmers coexist using different practices. It’s become a landmark case, likely to set new ground rules between those who do and those who don’t do GM.” (Steve Marsh and the Bad Seeds)
Many in the organic food movement and food industry including Dr. Vandana Shiva, Costa Georgiadis, Holly Davis and Kylie Kwong have made public the importance of GM free food and supported Steve Marsh in this landmark legal battle. While David Holmgren has not specifically talked about the case, but he has argued that access to seeds is vitally important, saying “it’s an issue about who controls and owns the energy that fuels humans”. In the following interview you can find out why GM free seeds are important, from a permaculture perspective.
(The interview was conducted originally by Peter Charles Downey for United Natures, International Permaculture Day and the Seed Freedom movement. The protest footage is from the Melbourne edition of the March Against Monsanto and their genetically modified organisms on May 25, 2013.)
(See the permaculture boy wonder Charlie Mgee interviewing Vandana Shiva)