Shumei International and Vandana Shiva Launch Seed Freedom, Gardens of Hope Campaign in Japan
World-renowned environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva and Japanese nonprofit Shumei International launch SEED FREEDOM, GARDENS OF HOPE in Japan to promote seed saving, protecting biodiversity and agricultural systems that work in harmony with nature.
As the 2nd anniversary of the Fukushima disaster approaches, the SEED FREEDOM campaign puts a spotlight on the growing need to build community resiliency and adopt more sustainable lifestyles. Japanese farmers and communities are facing serious concerns about nuclear radiation, climate change, environmental degradation and natural disasters. The “Seed, Soil and Food for the Future” symposium emphasized the critical relationship between the environment, agriculture, food and human life to build support for SEED FREEDOM. Starting a community seed bank is one of the ways SEED FREEDOM encourages people to protect the integrity, purity and diversity of natural seeds for the future.
“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,” urged Dr. Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya and the SEED FREEDOM movement. “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.”
Crop diversity is being lost at an alarming rate as farmers leave local varieties for genetically uniform, high-yielding varieties, which require certain amounts of pesticides and fertilizers to produce. Numerous studies have revealed that GMO foods can pose serious risks to humans and the environment. This is an issue for Japan as approximately sixty percent of its food is imported given that the labeling requirements of GMO ingredients in foods are not comprehensive.
The “Seed, Soil and Food for the Future” symposium explored new solutions to regain food and seed sovereignty based on respect for nature that recognizes the inherent power of natural seeds and soil to produce healthy food locally. Dr. Elaine Ingham, a soil microbiologist and chief scientist of Rodale Institute, addressed ways to grow more resilient crops through sustainable soil management. Mr. Seiji Sugeno, a farmer and the president of the Fukushima Organic Agriculture Network explained the role of sustainable farming in community rebuilding and land rejuvenation following the March 2011 nuclear disaster. He was joined by a Natural Agriculture farmer Mr. Mamoru Azuhata, who shared his experience in Fukushima and seeing the positive impact of working in harmony with the land.
“There is an urgent need to shift our way of thinking towards the environment by learning to work with it rather than trying to manipulate or control it. The seed is a crucial starting point,” said Alice Cunningham, director of International Affairs for Shumei International.
About Shumei International
Shumei International is a Japanese-based organization dedicated to working toward the betterment of the human community. Shumei has Natural Agriculture programs around the world that foster a way of life that is in harmony with nature. For more information, visit www.shumei-international.org
Navdanya is a movement started in 1987 by Dr. Vandana Shiva to protect biodiversity and the integrity of all species, promote the practice of a nonviolent agriculture that works with nature and not against her, and create an Earth Democracy, based on the respect of all members of the Earth Community. For more information, visit www.navdanya.org / www.vandanashiva.org
About Seed Freedom
The Seed Freedom Campaign aims to raise awareness of the state of seeds, what seed means in diverse cultures, how bio-cultural diversity is threatened, and how new movements by indigenous people, farmers, community gardens and others are creating new strategies to defend seed sovereignty. For more information, visit www.seedfreedom.in