International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Seed Diversity, Farmers’ Rights, and the Politics of Re-peasantization

International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Volume 19, issue 2 (2012), pages 229-242

Author: Elisa Da Vià
Affiliation: Department of Development Sociology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, U.S.A.

ISSN: 0798-1759


Abstract

Over the last decade, the practice of using and exchanging locally adapted seeds has become a focal site of grass-roots organizing in the rural areas of Europe, spear-headed by the mobilization of seed networks in different countries and regions. Countering the restrictive scope of existing seed regulations, these networks are composed of family farmers, collectives, farmers movements, researchers, agronomists, and non-governmental organizations that are actively engaged in the development of farmer-based seed systems as a source of both peasant autonomy and environmental sustainability. Within the context of a broader struggle to overcome the multiple crises of the agro-industrial model, the reproduction of farm-saved seeds is closely associated with the promotion of agro-ecological alternatives that enhance integration, resilience, and livelihood security. Correspondingly, the goal to diversify food and seed systems puts renewed emphasis on the role of peasant innovation and localized consumption in processes of agrarian transformation. Combining sustainable farming methods, participatory forms of knowledge and de-commodified circuits of exchange, these initiatives reassert the centrality of the social and ecological role of agriculture in Europe beyond the reductionism of market-based approaches to rural change.

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