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Seedmail #43 – Spring is in the air, but so is CO2

February 11, 2018
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The weather was pretty mild in January: bulbs were starting to sprout while birds were singing like it was already March. However, the freezing temperatures in the last few days reminded us that we are still in winter. Well, it’s sunny (at least in Amsterdam) and this motivates us to prepare the spring to come with many activities! The ASEED team is very busy with organising Reclaim the Seeds, and preparing a second edition of the Food Autonomy Festival. In addition, we are also making campaign plans for the months and years to come! This also means that we are looking for ways to finance and support our organisation and activities.

— announcements –

Reclaim the Seeds 2018: from Rotterdam via Amsterdam to Leuven

This year, no less than 3 Reclaim the Seeds events will be taking place. How exciting!
February 24th at BlueCity in Rotterdam
March 3rd & 4th at the Fruittuin van West in Amsterdam
March 10th at the Provinciehuis in Leuven (Belgium)

In addition, you can write down March 10th in your agenda: the Noordelijk Zadennetwerk (‘Northern Seed network’) also organises a seed fair with a nice workshop programme in Groningen.

The mega merger between Bayer and Monsanto concerns many people and groups, while patents on seeds and crops seems more easily given. New biotech techniques are also being developed to create GMOs and to bypass the current regulations. In this context, Reclaim the Seeds continues year after year to promote biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, bottom-up and grassroots innovation and collaboration between farmers and consumers. Together, we are stronger to resist industrial farming and agribusiness!

We also are urgently looking for volunteers. Please get in touch with us if you want to help! More info on the stalls, the workshop programme and practical details: https://reclaimtheseeds.nl.

A second Food Autonomy Festival

ASEED organised the Food Autonomy Festival (FAF) in Bajesdorp in Amsterdam on May 6, 2017. The FAF was the opportunity to present and celebrate many (sustainable and social) solutions to improve the current state of our large-scale and polluting food system. At this occasion, ASEED presented its new brochure agriculture and climate change. Since we know there is still a lot to be said on those topics and because we received a lot of positive feedback, we started to organise a second edition in Bajesdorp. It is not definite yet, but probably the date will be May 12.

A brochure on new GMOs

They are many reasons why opposing GMOs: agrochemical use, patents, safety risks… And until a couple of years ago, it was pretty easy to distinguish a conventional crop from a GM crop. Yet now, we witness the rapid emergence of new breeding techniques which are not considered as ‘genetic modifications’ by the companies involved. This is, of course, a convenient way for them to circumvent both resistance and regulations. In order to criticise this negative development, we need to understand the topic well and to use the right arguments: La Via Campesina has recently issued a brochure on this topic, ‘Stop new GMOs!’. You can already read it online in English, German, Spanish or French. In addition, ASEED has translated the brochure in Dutch. In a few days you can read the brochure online, but you can also help us distributing the paper or digital version.

Working on new ASEED campaign(s)

At ASEED, we are working on campaign plans for the coming years. Climate change, Bayer and Monsanto, new developments in genetic manipulation…. There is more than enough to do, but we need to think about the best way to focus on this important topic. If you want to be part of ASEED agriculture campaign, do not hesitate to contact us.

— reports –

Ende Gelaende droneReports Climate Summit COP23 in Bonn

Have governments achieved anything relevant? Did they finish the Paris Agreement documents? Did they discuss agriculture or climate refugees? This year COP did not create a lot of expectations since it was focused on the elaboration of the Paris Agreement rules to decide the technical affairs agreed upon at the COP21. The deadline to finish the rule book from Paris is next year, when COP24 will take place in Katowice in Poland. Then, the agreement will be put into practice from 2020 onwards. So despite not being very attractive to the international media, many important topics have been discussed in Bonn.

ASEED went to Bonn: here is a short review on the final negotiation outcomes at the COP23: http://aseed.net/en/cop23-final-update-negotiations-outcomes/

We also published some reports of the actions and side projects that took place during the COP:
Update 1: Ende Gelände and more
Update 2: Coalfish and daisy world
Update 3: Resistance vs. business as usual
Update 4: Positive initiatives

Buy the Planet Summit

On the 12th of December, French president Emmanuel Macron gathered international negotiators in Paris for the One Planet Summit. Exactly two years after signing the Paris Agreement, the idea was to celebrate this achievement and go further in tackling climate change. The summit has been organised by the United Nations and the World Bank, to encourage banks and companies to finance sustainable projects and stop funding fossil fuels, for example.
To remind to the negotiators to stick to their promises a group of NGO gathered in front of the Pantheon monument for an called “Not A Penny More”, aiming to encourage both public and private sectors to stop financing “energies of the past”. ASEED members went to Paris to participate in demonstrations and understand what was at stake around this summit. Read the report here: http://aseed.net/en/buy-the-planet-summit/

— other news –

Good news for organic and biodiverse seeds

On November 22nd; the EU Council and the agriculture committee of the European Parliament finally adopted a compromise for the new regulation on organic production in the EU. Three years of negotiations have resulted in a wide range of adjustments that can be considered as a victory for the environment and diversity. Even though the new rules will only be implemented in 2021, this is an important development in seed regulation. This new regulation introduces two new categories of ‘varieties’ of seeds available for organic agriculture: ‘organic heterogeneous material’ and ‘organic varieties suitable for organic production’.
Read more on this topic in English on Seed Freedom’s website or in Dutch on ASEED’s website: http://aseed.net/goed-eu-nieuws-voor-biologische-en-diverse-zaden/

Feeding the world with organic agriculture? Not easy, but it is possible

‘Feeding the world in an ecological manner would be on condition of drastic measures, conclude scientists.’ This is the title of a pretty alarming and one-sided article published in the Dutch Newspaper De Volkskrant on November 15, 2017. According to this article, conventional agriculture produces higher yields than organic agriculture thanks to the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Therefore, how could we feed the growing world population with organic agriculture? ‘100 percent organic agriculture is a luxury we can only access through a very high price.’ De Volkskrant refers to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications on November 14th, Strategies for feeding the world more sustainably with organic agriculture, and it appears that it very partially summarised the findings of scientists. The Guardian has also covered the study and wrote: ‘Switching to organic farming could cut greenhouse gas emissions, study shows’. Similarly, the French newspaper Le Monde chose ‘100% organic agriculture could feed the world in 2050’ as a title for its article to introduce this new study.

Read ASEED’s analysis on De Volkskrant’s piece: http://aseed.net/en/feeding-the-world-with-organic-agriculture-not-easy-but-it-is-possible/

ZAD, one battle won, but there is more

The occupants of the ‘Zone À Défendre’ (ZAD) in the west of France have chosen to fight for freedom by living in the location planned for the airport, but also, to take advantage of these abandoned spaces in order to learn to live together, to grow food, to be more autonomous vis-à-vis of the capitalist system. On January 17th, the French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, announced the abandonment of the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. The official death of the project happens this February 9, 2018. The declaration of public utility (DUP), taken by decree on February 9, 2008 is from now on obsolete. On Saturday, February 10th, the movement of opposition will celebrate the end of this DUP, and thus “The victory of a fight of 50 years”.

However, the Prime Minister called the “squatters” in this “lawless area” of the “ZAD” to leave, giving them “until spring” to leave “by themselves”. The inhabitants of the ZAD have again a new battle to fight, that to oppose any eviction of those who came to live in the bocage these last years to defend it and who wish to stay there and go on. The inhabitants of the ZAD cannot be legally evicted before March 31st: indeed the 14 living places of the ZAD, having been the object of procedures of eviction, all benefit of the winter break. For the first time, NGOs, associations and unions working for the environmental protection, together with political parties, publicly committed to preserve the ZAD despite the fact the airport project was abandoned. But maybe, a day will come when the historic opponents can create a legal entity, managing the redistribution of 1,650 hectares dedicated to the project.
Read more: https://zad.nadir.org/spip.php?article5030

–Donations–

ASEED’s work is made possible thanks to the contribution of small and big donors. If you appreciate what we are doing, and if you want to support us in everything we do – from promoting alternative solutions to industrial agriculture to resisting corporate power – , please consider making a donation. You can make a one-time donation, or sign up for supporting us in the long term. See all the options here: http://aseed.net/en/donate/

Thank you!