Keeping Seeds in Peoples’ Hands. Launch of the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2016

Launched at FAO Headquarters, the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2016 warns seeds and biodiversity are under threat as a result of the increasing corporate capture and the states’ neglect. Press release here

Despite feeding the world and providing resilience to natural disasters, peasant seed systems face severe threats of accelerated destruction of agricultural biodiversity due to the appropriation of nature by industrial agriculture and corporations. Increasingly, seed and agrochemical business seeks to privatize, monopolize and control seeds by patenting and commodifying this very source of life. Meanwhile, peasant and indigenous communities who have been the developers and guardians of seeds for millennia, are finding their rights to save, use, exchange and sell seeds overshadowed by a corporate agenda that prioritizes profit over human rights and the sustainable maintenance of nature.

As in previous editions, the renowned Right to Food and Nutrition Watch publication will be launched on October 13 at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, analyzing some of these key issues. It will expose how the corporate capture of seeds and other natural resources – land, water, forests – is impacting the way in which the food we eat is produced. 

Seeds and agricultural biodiversity have been at the heart of social movements' struggles for decades. Nonetheless, and despite manifold interlinkages, efforts towards the realization of the human right to adequate food and nutrition have thus far paid insufficient attention to them. “Keeping Seeds in Peoples' Hands” explores ways to close this gap and promote a stronger agenda to advance these interconnected struggles.

Commenting on this year’s edition, Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food (2008-2014) and member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, says: “In all world regions, communities are circumventing the mainstream food system and the striking inequalities and concentration of power that characterize it. The battle around seeds and agrobiodiversity illustrates this, better perhaps than any other part of the food system. Socio-diversity appears as a key tool for the preservation and enhancement of agrobiodiversity, and food sovereignty as a condition for the full realization of the right to food. The Watch 2016 is therefore an invitation to take action: to find alternatives and to challenge the mainstream narrative as to what progress is about and how to measure it”.

The central role of women as custodians of seed and biodiversity will also be under discussion. They are the unacknowledged and unseen experts on these matters and must be involved in any decision-making.  But it makes little sense for women to become equal partners within a broken system. As echoed by the Watch, what needs to be changed is the current value system that favors food and seed for profit over seed and food – rights, not commodities – for those who produce it and their heirs. 

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Photos of the international launch at FAO

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