Plant Breeding and Biodiversity - an Urgent Concern
Dear Friends of the ELIANT Alliance,
It is the small-scale and regionally focussed plant breeders who with their dedication, skill and modest means are maintaining the diversity of our plant varieties. With the help of natural plant breeding techniques they are also developing new open pollinated varieties suited to changing climatic conditions. The essential biodiversity of our seed stock is in this way being secured.
The globally active seed corporations are focussing their efforts on the genetic modification and hybridisation of important food plants like maize, soya, wheat, rice etc. to produce high yields from very few varieties - a sure way to increase turnover and therefore profit.
What did ELIANT achieve in 2014 for cereal and food plant diversity?
Our January 2014 conference in Brussels achieved great results
Along with Demeter International and a number of other organisations, ELIANT drew attention to the dire consequences of accepting the proposed new EU Plant Reproductive Material Law. The planned law would have drastically curtailed non-professional plant breeding and the production of seeds by farmers. It would have seriously threatened the diversity of plant varieties in Europe. In February, a few weeks after the conference, members of the European Parliament rejected the proposal!
Seed festivals in towns across Europe during October 2014
Seed festivals took place during September and October in Amsterdam, Athens, Brussels, London and in Romania. In Athens the event was accompanied by a practical workshop and seed exchange. Among the speakers at the two day seed festival in Brussels were Florianne Koechlin who spoke about the plant as a living organism - the plant is not an object - and Christof Potthof from the Gene Ethics Network who gave a moving presentation entitled "No GM plants in the Landscape and no Patenting of Plants".
The festival in London was part of a nationwide event called "The Humble Seed". People were informed through lectures, workshops and other activities of the importance of having seeds that can be saved and sown again and why the continued availability of such seed is so important.
The focus of the three day event in Romania was on the different regional crops and on local seed. The benefits and value of these plants for both the environment and the quality of food were explained. The seed festivals were a first step towards making plant breeders and the public aware through dialogue, of their right to use locally grown seed. ELIANT would like to carry on with this work in the coming year both in Brussels and in other cities. This important work is however only possible with your support. Many thanks for your donations.
With warm greetings for a successful New Year.
Dr. Michaela Glöckler