“Our idea is to empower an open seed system, connecting existing capabilities and creating new ones”. With this phrase, Anabel Marín, director of Bioleft, summarized the initiative at the research seminar of the School of Economics and Business of the Universidad de San Martín, on Thursday, June 25.
The seminar brings together specialists in productive development, economics and business to share their research advances on the last Thursday of each month. Since March 2020, they have taken the virtual format, which allows a wider audience. This time, the title chosen was “Food sovereignty from seeds? An alternative to patents in essential sectors”. The idea of the essentiality of the food sector and particularly of the seed sector, exacerbated by the pandemic, was the theme of the entire webinar, which was followed by more than eighty people from different Latin American countries.
“The industry of these years has generated seeds that are not adapted to the needs of small producers. That is why we want to support a breeding system that produces those seeds that other agriculture needs,” explained Marín. In his presentation, he started from the increasingly accentuated concentration of the seed industry and detailed how it threatens biological, social and also economic sustainability. From this point, he explained Bioleft’s proposal: to create an open seed system that guarantees the production and circulation of diverse seeds, suitable for different types of agricultural management, such as agroecology, organic agriculture or family production.
He then outlined Bioleft’s vision as a tool to collaboratively build knowledge in plant genetics. “We discovered that this platform can be very useful as a tool for participatory breeding, since exchanges between farmers and breeders generate very valuable information; for that we are developing the tool we call ‘Field Notebook’,” he stressed. “Participatory breeding allows multiple criteria when choosing which variables to prioritize when improving seeds, and takes us out of the single logic of prioritizing yield, which leaves aside environmental and economic sustainability.”
Finally, Marín assured that the idea of the open seed network is not a utopia, but a possible and concrete alternative: “We have decentralized domestic capacities, in the public system and in small companies. In Argentina, new varieties still tend to come from the public system and national companies. This gives us room to propose the open seed system to these actors”.
After the presentation, he answered questions from a very informed and interested audience about the impact of seeds in the field of food and technological sovereignty.