ICEC is in support of Seed Freedom
We have compiled a diverse set of religious voices from our leadership (Link to the separate document) to address the importance of seeds and seed freedom, which we are contributing to the Seed Freedom movement.
Issues involving seeds form a crucial part of the larger framework of the food supply system, which is a fundamental part of human relatedness to nature and security for life. Many religious people are among those raising concerns over moral and practical issues of food quality, delivery, sustainability, and more. Some speak of “occupying the food chain” to build local food resilience and to eat fabulously. We offer some ideas and links below for those wishing to connect their religious understanding to engaged practice.
From a historical perspective, some question the value of development of mass agriculture and marketing; less than 100 years ago in the US most food production was done in the home, and local gardens were the norm, as were numerous food conservation practices. Many are finding moral implications in these changes, as well as the need to organize and act.
The National Catholic Rural Life Conference applies “the teachings of Christ for the betterment of rural America” Their website has numerous resources, including the article “The Ethics of Eating: Why Eating is a Moral Act” by Jim Ennis. He writes,
”Providing food for all is a Gospel imperative, not just another policy choice. … Almost ten years ago, the Catholic Bishops of the United States reflected on these ethical questions and wrote a letter to Catholics in the United States to challenge our lack of awareness of food, farming and farmworker related issues through the lens of Catholic social doctrine. Food and agriculture are inextricably linked and the increasing concentration at every level of agriculture and growing globalization mean that fewer people are making decisions that affect far more people than at any time in history. Because of the corrupting influence of injustice - that is, of sin - the Church cannot remain indifferent to food and agriculture matters.
As Christians we all have a role to play in contributing to the common good in our society. As eaters and citizens we have the power to make our voices heard in our grocery stores and local communities and to our local government representatives. Food and agriculture issues are not irrelevant to our faith. Our faith becomes irrelevant to a lost and needy world when we ignore the ethical questions of our time.”
The Seed Freedom website details the recent rapid corporate consolidation of the seed industry (http://seedfreedom.in/learn/who-owns-the-seed/) showing the domination by pharmaceutical companies:
Given the high degree of pharmaceutical involvement, it is important to be informed about the degree of chemical contamination in the food chain, which can be readily found on the Pesticide Action Network’s searchable online database of chemicals found on food. (http://whatsonmyfood.org/index.jsp)
Genesis Farm, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Dominic, Caldwell, NJ is directed by Miriam MacGillis who writes, “Each seed contains a sacred mystery: the longing of the plant to live and evolve, which is but one expression of the longing of the Universe to live and evolve.” Seed saving an important activity on the farm, and they are moving forward a terribly important legal case, Osgata vs. Monsanto:
The sacred role of seeds is under threat from many forces, most importantly from
transgenic seed. This month, Genesis Farm, along with 74 other plaintiffs, moved forward with their patent infringement case against transgenic seed giant Monsanto. The original lawsuit argues that the plaintiffs should be shielded from future patent lawsuits brought by Monsanto because unwanted transgenic seed contamination is such a looming threat.
The case, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto, was dismissed by a trial court judge in February. Our attorney, Dan Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation has appealed the trial court decision. Two amici briefs from prominent allies were filed this month in support of plaintiffs: one by a group of law professors, and one from a group of fourteen non-profit agricultural and consumer organizations. It is expected that that there will be an appellate court hearing in early 2013. –From http://www.genesisfarm.org/about.taf?id=119, October, 2012.
Many other groups and networks are raising and addressing the issues; people of conscience have many avenues to express their convictions.
Transition US (http://www.transitionus.org/home) asks:
What is the role of food localization in building community resilience and self-reliance? How can food localization address the challenges of fossil fuel depletion, climate change, and economic decline? How can Transition Initiatives be catalysts for food localization as economic development?
Thinking like a Foodshed
Food localization means shifting from a globalized, industrialized food system in which we are all dependent on distant and ultimately unreliable suppliers for our basic food needs, to a resilient and self-reliant locally-based foodshed where communities are able to provision their own essential food needs by relying on bio-intensive production methods that restore soil, rekindle connection with the land, and rebuild community.
Occupy Monsanto (http://occupy-monsanto.com/) : Whether you like it or not, chances are Monsanto contaminated the food you ate today with chemicals and GMOs. Monsanto controls much of the world's food supply at the expense of food democracy worldwide. This site is dedicated to empowering citizens of the world to take action against Monsanto.
We here at ICEC are interested in learning of other religiously based thoughts and actions on this area of concern. Please contact gharrisATtempleofunderstandingDOTorg with further thoughts and information, and we will update this page with your contributions.