|For immediate release.|
|OTTAWA, September 19, 2016 – The Bayer-Monsanto merger raises serious questions about who controls our food and how it is produced. Equally serious questions must be raised about how this concentration diminishes biodiversity and limits our global capacity to adapt to climate change.
Climate change and unsustainable production practices are causing widespread losses of the major crops we currently rely on. The adaptive power of agricultural biodiversity is the key to maintaining and increasing food production for the future. Despite this, public funding for plant breeding in Canada and around the world has seriously declined in recent decades. Claims that the recent mega-mergers will increase research and innovation require scrutiny: only four major crops (rice, wheat, corn, and potatoes) dominate commercial agriculture. Vast resources are poured into research for these commodity crops.
In contrast, the world’s small-holder farmers have bred more than 7,000 crops and millions of varieties of these crops. Farmer-led innovation has always been at work in agriculture.
“Seed diversity is being kept alive around the planet by smallholder farmers, through breeding, use, and exchange,” says USC Canada’s Policy Director, Faris Ahmed. “The mergers will do little to support this active conservation.”
“These consolidated companies control huge amounts of seed germplasm and do not easily share this material with other plant breeders. This lack of access to seed diversity dramatically restricts what public and independent plant breeders can achieve,” says Dan Brisebois, a family farmer and breeder at Tourne-Sol Co-operative Farm in Quebec.
Bob Wildfong, Director of Seeds of Diversity Canada, says, “Small farmers in Canada and around the world have the crop biodiversity that will re-build future food security. Most farmers can’t get that vast diversity though, because the companies that own the big seed multiplication farms, the marketing chains, and the seed delivery will only provide farm-scale quantities of a few varieties.”
Wildfong says that the role of seeds has not received adequate attention, even though they are the heart of our food system. “We have forgotten to hold seed suppliers to the same high standards that we expect from food suppliers,” he says.
“It’s really small farmers, not larger companies, that preserve our biodiversity,” says Faris Ahmed. “What we need to ask is what kind of agriculture will feed the world for generations to come? Will it be a highly concentrated and restrictive system? Or will it be an agriculture grounded in biodiversity and choice?”
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|For more information:
Sheila Petzold, Communications Director: email@example.com (613) 234 6827 x 245