Seeds represent the rich heritage of biological diversity and are important repositories of ancestral and cultural knowledge. Over millennia, farmers and societies developed seeds and shared them collectively to ensure food security and local economies. Through seed saving and traditional plant breeding knowledge and technologies, communities developed diverse seeds to adapt to drought, heat stress, pest and plant diseases, and other environmental stresses and geographical limitations.
Today, there is a seed crisis. Over the last few decades, legal and policy arenas—both domestically and internationally—have radically altered the fundamental principle that plants and genetic heritage are part of the “commons,” the shared heritage of mankind, to be protected as a public good. Instead, seed patents and intellectual property rights (IPRs) have been crafted to grant corporations the notion that life can be owned, commercialized and privatized. In fact, the ten largest agrochemical companies now control over half of global proprietary seed. As a result, seed diversity and resiliency have been compromised and control of seed has moved away from farmers and local communities to large corporations. Seed—formerly a free, renewable resource—has become a costly, non-renewable farm input for the world’s farmers and threatens food security of communities around the globe.
Save our Seeds (SOS) is Center for Food Safety’s response to the crisis. SOS is an integrated, international program that is undertaking a two-pronged approach: 1) legal and policy actions to halt corporate control over seed and ensure that farmers and local communities maintain and re-gain the fundamental right to save, breed, re-plant, and share seeds; and 2) education and outreach to the media, opinion leaders, and civil society to highlight how the current seed crisis affects farmers, local communities and economies, food security and ecologies.