The bad news: on one side, Monsanto and Bayer have just completed its 66 billion dollars merger, in order to combine seeds with chemicals and make it grow. On the other side, Syngenta has just been bought by Chinese colossus ChemChina (even the initials are scary) for the modest amount of 44 billion dollars. All these money, to hoard and gain a foothold in the worldwide seeds market. Very spooky!
The good news: two impavid Italian farmers, Angelo and Valerio, are creating an archive of ancient seeds to fight GMO, multinationals and preserve our health.
Best friends since childhood, Angelo Giordano and Valerio Tanzarella, an agronomist and a lawyer, from a small village in the picturesque Puglia, in Italy, are collecting incredible and rare seeds of forgotten varieties. A noteworthy project, named Ex Terra, that aims to cultivate, study and spread to new markets ancients, rare, incredible and precious seeds.
An impressive and marvellous job which can be very hard when you have to deal with sharks (no offence to sharks), such as Monsanto. The agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation developed a glyphosate-based herbicide in the 1970s, toxic for the health, and became a major producer of genetically engineered crops, with 83% of worldwide seeds in their hands, about 95% of veggies that we take on our tables.
Also, Monsanto-Bayer and Syngenta hold 70% of drugs being used for nowadays crops. Long story short: these two multinationals are the same companies which produce seeds, and hence our veggies, plus pesticides and drugs that are used to make seeds grow. Funny or scary?
The two Jedi of the natural crops and seeds, on the other hand, aim to protect and enhance local biodiversity. They are trying to capture and reproduce the biodiversity of the past and, also, to stimulate scientific and nutraceutical discoveries of some plants. Nutraceutical is a syncretic neologism from “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical”.
Nutraceuticals are all those nutrient principles contained in foods that have beneficial effects on our health. So, the ability to heal yourself by eating healthy fruits and vegetables.
According to the two farmers, some tomatoes have nutrients 200 times compared to others varieties. Totally different from the tasteless varieties we buy at the supermarkets.
The couple, from 2012, have over 1200 tomatoes varieties! 20 different kind of aubergines, 30 of potatoes, 15 varieties of peas, and melons, pumpkins, and much more!
Why modern farmers buy seed from multinationals, then? After the II WW, the EU decided that, in the name of industrial and technological development, agriculture must aim to the use of chemicals, and due to economic and agricultural policies the use of chemicals to grow vegetables and fruits became normality. All of that, at the expense of our health, because if from one side we have rich harvests, beautiful and big vegetables, on the other side, these products are less nutritious.
In a nutshell, farmers are invited to buy seeds from multinationals because they guarantee yield and, also, European funding, to the detriment of quality.
“A farmer does not set up on his own because he is a slave to a supply chain from which he can not disengage: if I produce many tomatoes, the processing company has a machine formatted only for certain specific measurements of 5 varieties of tomatoes (the same seeds of multinationals). The fertilizers and trays, the machines to encapsulate the seed have always been set for those few lucky elite varieties in the hands of Monsanto and Syngenta. The whole agricultural world is built on those few species in the hands of multinationals! ” says Angelo, and continues “The problem is the legislation: if you have much money, you can afford to register those varieties, you invent one in the laboratory and you register it to the national and European registries. This method, though, is a disadvantage to small farmers, who cannot afford to spend a lot of money to patent their small varieties. Not to mention bureaucracy, studies and research, legal documents to be attached for the request approval”.
Although their vegetables come from centenaries tradition, handed down from father to son, 90% of their vegetables are potentially illegal, because, according to the EU, they have to be secure for the consumers and wait for long control processes. Isn’t crazy?
Through the exchange of ancient seeds between farmers from all over the world, we can stop this supply chain and stop big corporations to threaten our health and destroy the Planet.
It’s our duty to create awareness among consumers and farmers, and help these heroes who are fighting against unscrupulous monsters.