What grows well in my backyard may not even germinate in the yard across town, let alone thousands of miles away. So the fact that so many seeds are produced in the U.S. and sent to grow across the globe makes little sense, particularly when those seeds are often genetically modified. Canada is taking note of this fact—that 95 percent of the seeds used by their farmers were not bred for Canadian landscapes and climates—and they are trying to do something about it.
According to EcoWatch, USC Canada, a non-governmental agency, is working to create a stronger domestic seed industry through the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. Their hopes are that the initiative will help protect against the negative effects of climate change on food security.
Seed diversity is directly related to food security as increased varieties are less vulnerable to climate changes, diseases and pests, and encourage more stable food production.
Working with farmers, seed producers, researchers, governments, and the organic industry, the initiative is targeting Canada’s reliance on American and European seed suppliers. By helping Canadian seed producers grow and supply locally-adapted seeds, the initiative will build a more dynamic domestic industry.
From the initiative’s website:
“Canadians rely on only four plant species – wheat, maize, rice, potato – for 60% of the calories in our diet. Globally, we are seeing increasing concentration in the seed industry coupled with alarming loss of agricultural biodiversity. This reliance on a shrinking number of crops and the lack of diversity in farmers’ fields makes us extremely vulnerable to factors such as severe weather (storms, drought, and floods), pests and diseases, and rising soil salinity. In contrast, as Canada’s climate changes, so must our approach to food production. Broadening the range of crops and crop varieties we grow is critical to increasing the resilience of our agricultural system.”
To that end, the movement is helping Canadians find local seeds, those that are not only produced nearby, but created with local climates in mind. Seed buyers can register to purchase and trade seeds with suppliers on the SeedLiving website.
“A discussion of food security without seed is incomplete,” said USC Canada program director Jane Rabinowicz. “Seed security equals food security—nine out of every ten bites of food taken around the world begin with seed.”