21 January 2014

Seeds of treason

There are all kinds of security issues.  In the last three decades the word ‘security’ was associated with protection from terrorist attacks.  Today territorial integrity is not threated by terrorists.  If at all it comes under threat by Indian fishermen and trawlers. 

Sovereignty, on the other hand, can be compromised in many ways.  It is not a land thing and neither is it a maritime boundary thing.  It is about other kinds of invasions, in particular through trade regimes constructed by the arm-twisting of weaker/poorer countries by powerful/rich nations.  It is also compromised by policy ‘prerogatives’ scripted by way of conditions for financial aid.  Not all of it however is foreign-born.  We can also shoot ourselves in our collective foot. 

Food security is an integral part of national security.  This is why moves to obtain a shift from rice to so-called High Value Crops have to be resisted.  The same goes for dependency on imported inputs, not least of all on account of the poisoning of soils and waterways and through these the people. Food, however, begins with seeds.  Control seeds and you control food, population and nation.  It is in this context that the proposed Seed and Planting Material Act needs to understood as a dangerous invasion on sovereignty. 

All seed, we all know, originates from nature and the most competent architects of their modification in terms of food security, health of consumers and nutritional enhancement have been farmers.  The proposed Act would destroy biodiversity by promoting uniformity, but worse, undermines farmers’ rights. 

Under this proposal, “No person shall do anything that will contravene the provisions of this
Act including import, export, sell, keep for sale, offer to sell, dispose in any manner or supply or exchange with commercial intention of seed and planting materials except in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”  This clearly compromises the farmers’ rights to save, exchange, sell, breed and improve seed all of which have been considered a birthright by rulers and ruled throughout this country’s long history.   

It appears as though the authors of this document are either oblivious to the pernicious machinations of the seed industry and the deplorable complicity of both officials and academics in their many efforts to destroy biodiversity and cripple farmers to facilitate the fattening of the said industry.
The Technical and Advisory Committee does not include farmer representatives even though farmers have the best experience and expertise in all matters pertaining to seeds.  There is no biodiversity expert to ensure the conservation of genetic diversity either.  There is however a ‘Genetic Engineer’, an entity that has absolutely no role in Seed Law!
We should keep in mind that the primary article of faith for industrial seed breeding has been uniformity.  Even according to the FAO (no innocent in these ‘wars’) more than 75% diversity in agriculture has been destroyed due to the spread of industrial monocultures.  This is not error but crime. 

What is needed and what common sense advocates in the face of the tragedies that mono crop cultures have engendered is breeding for diversity, nutrition and resilience.  In this sense the draft act is archaic.  Worse, it amounts to colluding with entities that are antithetical to national interest, as embedded Mahinda Chinthana Idiri Dekma, and rebels against the overall citizenry and especially the farming community.  Let us not forget that in terms of sheer numbers it was this community that sacrificed most lives to rid the country of the terrorist threat and keep safe, inter alia, the very architects of these treacherous documents.

The consequences of violating regulations clearly betray this treachery.  Farmers would be drawn over the coals while importers and handlers would be treated with ‘consideration’. No fines or imprisonment for them.

It is clear then.  This is one more piece of the puzzle to compromise or even destroy national sovereignty.  Take over seed control and you take over the nation.  We say this because this country has seen officials, academics and politicians coming together to transform land and water into marketable commodities, to make farmers playthings of seed companies, encourage the use of toxic chemicals banned in the countries of origin, among other things.  We have already compromised our ability to feed ourselves.  We have already agreed to consumer poison in the name of development. 

This would be the last straw.  Does the President know that his officials, advisors and ministers are thumbing their collective noses at his chinthanaya?  



sajic said...


Hiran Fernando said...

I have been sharing thoughts on GMOs and particularly Monsanto et al, whose interest in humanity and healthy living tends towards zero. There is sufficient information in the web to make one say, " STOP THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF". Sri Lanka has not been immune, with a few bigger companies joining the Monsanto band wagon,into which the FDA of the US and the likes of Wm Gates have joined. IT IS THE BOTTOM LINE AND WHAT I CAN GAIN OUT OF THIS.Many have gained a great deal both in SL and more overseas. My presentation at Caux, Switzerland was in this light. Sorry to say that not many wish to take this GMO thing seriously, and offend the powers that be. Is absence of flying bullets and worse security? There a few will die and many escape, with GMos many will die and none may escape. Hiran