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Press release          

The film highlights the extent to which the industrial agricultural system ­? and genetically modified seeds in particular ­? has impacted on the enormous agro?biodiversity evolved by farmers and communities around the world.

A new short film launched online on Tuesday 12th June charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional, diversity rich farming systems across the world, to being transformed into a powerful commodity, used to monopolise the global food system.

Seeds of Freedom, a collaborative work from The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network, is being narrated by British Actor Jeremy Irons, who became the UN Goodwill Ambassador for Food & Agriculture in 2011. Seeds of Freedom features interviews with world-­‐renowned environmental commentators and activists including Dr Vandana Shiva, Zac Goldsmith MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Kumi Naidoo, John Vidal, Dr Melaku Worrede and Henk Hobbelink.

The film highlights the extent to which the industrial agricultural system ­‐ and genetically modified (GM) seeds in particular ­‐ has impacted on the enormous agro‐biodiversity evolved by farmers and communities around the world. The film features the voices of a number of African farmers who have been affected by the introduction of hybrid seeds across the continent, and are concerned about the growing intrusion of GM into Africa's food system.

Gathuru Mburu of the African Biodiversity Network said "We wanted to make a film that gave Africa, and the south, a global voice against GM. As the likes of Monsanto, Syngenta, and Bill Gates' Alliance for a New Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) all forge ahead into Africa under the mantra that GM is the only way to feed the population, African farmers are shouting "no", but their voices are being drowned out! GM technology has not been developed to aid farmers or to feed hungry people, it's to create new markets for patented seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and commodities. By undermining, contaminating and displacing Africa's crop diversity this represents a threat to food security – but an opportunity for profit."

Liz Hosken, Director of The Gaia Foundation adds "Seeds of Freedom brings together a chorus of voices from around the world, asserting that in spite of the corporate drive to control our food system, small farmers are still providing 70% of the world's food. We are at a critical turning point now, as the global food sovereignty movement builds momentum to reclaim control of ecologically sane and socially just local food systems, which celebrate and enhance diversity and hence resilience. The film calls for farmers and consumers to join forces, so that we bequeath to our children a diversity rich food system which can withstand climatic, and other, pressures they will face."

The final 30-­‐minute film, which is a co-­‐production of The African Biodiversity Network and The Gaia Foundation, in collaboration with local Ethiopian partner MELCA Ethiopia, and international partners Navdanya and GRAIN, will be online for international audiences to watch and download for free from Tuesday 12th June.


For all press enquiries please contact Rowan Phillimore (0207 428 0054/ 07748945204 [email][email protected]) or Teresa Anderson (07984932655 [email][email protected])

A three-minute trailer of the film can be viewed here:

Vandana Shiva, Director of Navdanya International, India:

"What are we supposed to do with these GM seeds? Seeds are supposed to be planted, multiplied, exchanged, further adapted, and so on. That's exactly what is not allowed from the corporate mindset. The corporations sell or license us the seed to use the seed in a specific way – the way that they are interested in. Full stop."

Henk Hobbelink, Coordinator of GRAIN International, Spain:

"It's nothing to do with feeding the world. It's nothing to do with tackling some of the huge issues we're facing today. It's about control of the food sector, of the food economy. We need to radically change course, and return to diversity".


"Yet another important piece of the puzzle that we needed to get the full picture of what a sustainable agriculture, food and nutrition security reality looks like. It is time for our decision makers to protect the branch we are sitting on, them included, and so they need to return the rights to the seeds to their legal owners, the farmers"

Dr Hans R Herren, President Biovision Foundation and Millennium Institute:

"Seeds of Freedom is a powerful film with an important message. There is a new wave of cultural imperialism taking place right now in the field of biodiversity and seed. We are losing our critical seed diversity to just a handful of corporations in the western world. The genetic erosion taking place here is tantamount to ecocide. The rate of farmer suicides because of crop failure and debt is nothing short of genocide. We must decentralise our food system."

Vandana Shiva, Founding Director, Navdanya, India