Vandana says “Occupy the Seed”: Join the Seed Freedom Fortnight of Action, 2-16 October 2012

by International Permaculture Day

On Sunday 6th May 2012, we launched the first International Permaculture Day and were honoured to interview world-renowned environmental activist and seed defender Dr. Vandana Shiva. Dr. Shiva spoke to us about the importance of seed sovereignty as the basis for permanent (sustainable) agriculture and about the grave and growing threat of patented seeds to life, diversity and freedom. In response, she’s started a global campaign to “Occupy the Seed” and is calling on permaculturalists and others everywhere to join. For more information about the initiative, see her Invitation to join the Global Citizens Alliance for Seed Freedom below.

To spearhead the campaign, Dr. Shiva has also announced plans for a Seed Freedom Fortnight of Action and has asked the permaculture community to play a leading role in this; see Vandana’s Message to Permaculturalists, again below. International Permaculture Day is collaborating with her to promote to the fortnight — learn how you can participate via the following links:

Seed Freedom Fortnight of Action – how to participate:

There will be updates and additions to the bullet points above. Check this page for those updates.

Vandana’s Message to Permaculturists

Dear Permaculturists,

There can be no permanent agriculture without the permanence, diversity and renewability of seed. Unlike industrial monocultures, permaculture depends on the co-operation between different species – plant and animals, perennial and annual.

The seeds of this diversity are at the heart of an agriculture of permanence. This is why you have an extremely important role to play in the Global Campaign for Seed Freedom both to save the diversity of seeds as well as our freedom to save and exchange seeds. Everywhere new laws are being imposed that make seed diversity, seed freedom and seed exchange illegal.

That is why I invite you to play a leading role in the Fortnight for Seed Freedom from 2nd October (Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary) to 16th October 2012 (World Food Day). In the spirit of Gandhi’s satyagraha, we plan to focus especially on the 2nd October (Gandhi’s birth anniversary) as a call for civil disobedience against unjust seed laws, to declare our Seed Freedom.

I enclose some ideas for actions for the Seed Freedom Fortnight [above] and look forward to planning common strategies and receiving from you a calendar of actions for the Fortnight so that together we can reclaim our Seed Freedom. — Vandana Shiva, 17th August 2012

Invitation to join the Global Citizens Alliance for Seed Freedom

Dear Seed keepers and Seed warriors,

On behalf of Navdanya, I write to invite you to become part of a Global Citizens Alliance for Seed Freedom – the start of a global campaign to alert citizens and governments around the world on how precarious our seed supply has become – and as a consequence how precarious our food security has become.

We started Navdanya 25 years ago to protect our seed diversity and farmers’ rights to save, breed, and exchange seed freely, in the context of the emerging threats of the TRIPS Agreement (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) which opened the door to the introduction of GMOs, patents on seed and the collection of royalties. A Monsanto representative later stated “In drafting these agreements we were the patient, diagnostician, physician all in one”. Corporations defined a problem – and for them the problem was farmers saving seed. They offered a solution, and the solution was the introduction of patents and intellectual property rights on seed, making it illegal for farmers to save their seed. Seed as a common good became a commodity of private seed companies, traded on the open market.

Today, the threat is greater. Consider the following:

  • The last twenty years have seen a very rapid erosion of seed diversity and seed sovereignty, and the rapid concentration of control over seed by a very small number of giant corporations
  • Acreage under GM corn, soya, canola, cotton has increased dramatically.
  • Besides displacing and destroying diversity, patented GMO seeds are also undermining seed sovereignty, the rights of farmers to grow their own seeds and to save and exchange seed.
  • In countries across the world, including in India, new seed laws are being introduced which enforce compulsory registration of seed, thus making it impossible for small farmers to grow their own diversity, and forcing them into dependency on giant seed corporations.
  • Genetic contamination is spreading – India has lost the cotton seeds because of contamination from Bt. Cotton and Mexico, the historical cradle of corn, has lost eighty percent of its corn varieties and these are but two instances of loss of local and national seed heritage.
  • After contamination, Biotech Seed Corporations sue farmers with patent infringement cases. More than 80 groups came together recently in the US and filed a case to prevent Monsanto from suing farmers whose seed had been contaminated.
  • As farmer’s seed supply is eroded, and farmers become dependent on patented GMO seed, the result is indebtedness. Debt created by Bt. Cotton in India has pushed farmers to suicide.
  • India has signed a U.S. /India knowledge Initiative in Agriculture, with a representative of Monsanto on the Board. States are being pressurized to sign agreements with Monsanto. An example is the Monsanto Rajasthan memorandum of understanding (MOU) under which Monsanto would obtain intellectual property rights (IPRs) on all genetic resources as well as research on seed carried out under the MOU. It was only after a campaign led by Navdanya and a “Monsanto Quit India” Bija Yatra that the government of Rajasthan cancelled the MOU.
  • Pressure by Monsanto on the US Government and the joint pressure of both on governments across the world is a major threat to the future of seed and the future of food.
  • Wikileaks exposed the US government’s intentions to proliferate the use of GMOs in Africa and Pakistan. Pressure to use GMOs imposed by US government representatives is a direct effort to support giant biotech business and to expand their markets.

These trends demonstrate a total control over the seed supply and a destruction of the very foundation of agriculture. We are witnessing a seed emergency at a global level.

The disappearance of our biodiversity and of our seed sovereignty is creating a major crisis for agriculture and food security around the world. We must act before it is too late.

Seeds are the first link in the food chain and the repository of life’s future evolution. As such, it is our inherent duty and responsibility to protect them and to pass them on to future generations. The growing of seed and the free exchange of seed among farmers has been the basis to maintaining biodiversity and our food security.

I am sure you will sense the emergency as deeply as I do, and feel the need to join forces to reclaim our seed and to protect our Seed Diversity and Seed Freedom.

Let us collectively make 2012 the year to “Save our Seeds” and “Reclaim our Seeds as a Commons” – from privatization through patents, from compulsory registration laws, from seed monopolies, from genetic erosion and contamination.

Let us plan common strategies and common actions so that the voices of the 99% in issues related to seed become louder than the bullying by Monsanto and the other four Agricultural Seed- Biotech Giants, who are determined to control the world’s food systems by stealing our seed and our freedoms.

Please send your ideas, your hopes, your dreams so we build a strong movement to “Occupy the Seed”.

I look forward to joining forces with you to make 2012 the year of the Liberation of the Seed and to help ensure a sustainable and just future for generations to come.

In Solidarity,
Vandana Shiva

To get involved, contact:

Global Movement to Defend Seed Freedom
info (at)

Two documents that provide an in-depth understanding of the seed issue are:

  1. The Manifesto on the Future of Seeds (2004), available in several languages. Its principles were the basis to the Regional Law of Tuscany on Seed heritage that same year.
  2. The GMO Emperor has no Clothes: false promises, failed technologies – published by Navdanya International last year together with an alliance of citizens movements (see below). The report made evident the severe threat to seed from erosion, pollution and privatization.

Seed freedom is food freedom: Act Now!


  1. Vandana is the new Ghandi – she sees a future that can have integrity and freedom – but we all must work together. This is a crisis far greatre than in the UK and the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign. This is about life.

  2. Hello from Brussels,
    I do believe we should fight even more in Europe.
    Indeed, very recently, Kokopedi is been fighting in court, even before the European courts, its feedom to produce and distribute seed diversity, against a European legislation that forbids the usage of our seed heritage.

    This is how Kokopedi presents itself on it’s site:

    Association Kokopelli was created in 1998 and succeeded Terre de Semences and Jardin Botanique de la Mhotte – which were created respectively in 1994 and 1992 by Dominique and Sofy Guillet. Thus, it has been 20 years, in service of Mother Earth, of protection of food biodiversity and production of organic seeds of Life. Kokopelli offers to the gardeners a live collection of more than 2200 varieties of organic heirloom seeds which is the most extensive in the world (not in the freezers but in the gardens and in the fields!). It has been also 20 years of struggle against the seed mafia of the transnationals – which control the beginning of the food chain (5 transnational controls 75% of the vegetable seed supply!) and which poison the biosphere – including the last 6 years in court trials in France, and recently in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, to struggle for survival and to struggle for the right to distribute heirloom varieties which are not registered in the fraudulous « national list » of the French government.

    Kokopedi is under severe strain
    I believe we should organize a massive action, in order to denounce present legislations.
    I will put myself in touch with Dominique Guillet, to see how to best organize this.

    To be followed

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