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Association Kokopelli
In defence of biodiversity

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Primal Seeds exists as a network to actively engage in protecting biodiversity and creating local food security.

It is a response to industrial agriculture, the control of the seed supply and of our food.

 

 

For the Liberation of Seeds and Humus

 

 

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MANIFESTO FOR SURVIVAL

Association Kokopelli was created in May 1999 as a result of the intensification of threats to the existence of Terre de Semences both from the " Seed Industry " and from French State bureaux.

Kokopelli, the hunch-backed flute player, is a symbol of fertility known throughout the three Americas for millenia. The hunchback is not a true hunchback but a sack full of seeds and all the while that he sows the seeds, hidden in the hump of his back, Kokopelli sings and plays upon the flute. In this way, he instills in the seed the breath of Life. Faced with the terrible forces of destruction let loose upon the planet, the symbol of Kokopelli represents for us the hope of an Earth once again fertile and of seeds bestowing Life.

We hope today in this manifesto to share with you our pleasure at what has been achieved thanks to the support of our numerous members and many associations, but also our enormous disquiet at no longer being able to continue the management of this huge collection of different seed varieties without significant and lasting financial support. The present collection of seeds offered by Kokopelli includes 500 varieties of tomatoes, 400 varieties of peppers, 150 varieties of squashes, 130 varieties of lettuces, many eggplants, grain amaranths, corns, basils, etc.

It is ten years now that we have struggled to preserve the genetic resouces of traditional open-pollinated vegetable varieties. The " Decree of 1997 " in France ( creating a National Catalogue for the listing of 'amateur' vegetable varieties but only subject to all manner of outrageous conditions) and the subsequent threat from the 'Service de la Repression des Fraudes' (The Fraud Squad) forced us to close down Terre de Semences whose seeds (all the produce of organic and bio-dynamic agriculture) were distributed all over Europe. (See the earlier press communiqu issued by Terre de Semences in 1999) To refresh your memory the French Decree of 1997 was no more than an annex to the Decree of 1993 which modified the CTPS (Permanent Committee for Selection) allowing the admission onto the said Committee of representatives from the Multi-National corporations. These thus became both Judge and Jury - party as they were to the virtual destruction of the biodiversity in this field. So the game is played and the shackles are locked. Those who control the seed supply, control the food chain and thus the whole of Humanity in its entirety. These Multi-Nationals have carried out a thorough job in the seed supply sector : they have almost totally bought it up. They have then systematically eradicated from the National Lists all the ancient open-pollinated
varieties ( which reproduce true to type and thus cannot be possessed) to replace them with F1 hybrids which are either sterile or immediately degenerate, thus creating a totally captive market. Growers, farmers and gardeners alike must all buy their seeds each and every year. From a Social view-point, those who work the soil have lost their autonomy. From an Ecological view-point, it is an irreversible catastrophy. 98% of the traditional vegetable varieties have been lost in the space of one century. The sole purpose of this exercise ? - profit to the Directors and share-holders of a handful of Multi-National chemical/seed conglomerates.

Terre de Semences has quietly closed down without too much of an unseemly fuss ! Its closing was no more than a ripple in a stinking quagmire of endless food scares and scandals, of every kind of pollution, of climatic upheaval, the destruction of the flocks and herds, massive migrations of African peoples succumbing to drought and famine.

Numerous associations, foundations and NGO's have invested enormous energy and large sums of money, quite rightly, in the struggle against pollution, mondialisation, global market and GMO's. However, for years now, we have tried to make these militant crusaders understand that it serves for nothing to struggle against GMO's if at the same time nothing is done to support the revival of the ancient varieties and the protection of the alimentary diversity, at least the little that remains of this after thirty years of vandalism ! If today you removed from the World's markets all the F1 hybrids and GM seeds you would be left with a virtual desert !

Association Kokopelli is a " living seed-bank " and it is unique in Europe. The collection of seeds offered to gardeners is unique in the World. Association Kokopelli continues to carry the torch but for how much longer ? We are in an extremely fragile financial position because the Association is not founded upon solid foundations. The recent turbulent climatic conditions have greatly added to the difficulties. When it does
nothing but rain, gardeners are not in their gardens and they do not have
the heart to buy seeds ! Added to this, we cannot be a part of the " conventional " retail market simply because we refuse point blank to pay the outrageous charge of 1450 FF for each variety in order for it to be included in the official catalogue.

Our work therefore remains totally unlawful but we dare to trust that the State will not attack an association that is carrying out such an important public duty as the protection of the alimentary bio-diversity ! We are given no financial assistance yet at the same time enormous budgets ( for example the French " Genoplante " project underwritten to the extent of 70% by the public purse) are awarded the Multi-Nationals in the name of research into GMO's. Every single year, the French farmers are getting 170 billions of francs in subsidies to play around in their fields with their big machines, to erode the soil a little more, to pollute the air and the water a little more, to produce deadly meat nobody is going to eat, to produce milk nobody is going to drink and which is transformed into milk powder to feed the calves which are taken away from the milking cows !

The European Commission has recently quintupled the budget devoted to protection of the genetic resources. We do not expect to see the shadow even of a single Euro ! We do not ask for charity but to be financially assisted and supported in our task of helping preserve the inheritance of Humankind and the future of our children.

Sometimes, we have the bitter impression that the struggle against all the destructive influences of Western Society has in itself become a source of commerce which breeds financial surges, which seduce the people, which allow the sale of newsprint and which create employment. It would seem that there is much less concern about Associations which struggle, in a constructive manner, to put in place alternatives for the future and to create " places of fertile resistance " which will allow later reinvestment in the territory.

Association Kokopelli, like the hardworking ant, toils with a non-virtual reality, the Earth. Biodiversity, in order to be preserved, must be cultivated. There is not much time left, as for the playful cicada, to enchant the media, the people, the political circles, and the serious institutions, with beautiful discourse, compelling journalism, striking photographs and poignant evidence.

We have recently published " The Seeds of Kokopelli " a hard-back edition running to some 420 pages (72 pages in colour) which is an instruction manual for seed-production in and for the family garden as well as being a catalogue of the multitude of seed varieties of Association Kokopelli available to gardeners and NGOs. We hope, by means of this work, to motivate a process of autonomy and self-sufficiency in the family garden, both in the production of vegetables and conservation of the traditional seed varieties.

Association Kokopelli has also, since last Autumn, created the Annadana Project, for the production and exchange of seeds in Southern Asia. This project is at present based in Auroville, Tamil Nadu, in Southern India (e-mail : [email protected]). We have already put in place gardens for the production of seed in Auroville. In the course of just a few months, we have distributed (free of charge) 40, 000 packets of seeds to numerous NGO's working in the field of sustainable agriculture (in India and Sri Lanka) as well as to all the villages of the Tibetan refugees in India. Association Kokopelli has, during the last year, funnelled towards India a collection of seeds with which to prepare hundreds of thousands of packets of seeds in order to give the Annadana Project a solid foundation.

Association Kokopelli is also busy in Africa working together with Pierre Rabhi and his association " Terre et Humanisme " to create seed production programmes in Niger, Burkina Faso and soon in other countries in Africa.

Needless perhaps to mention that none of our projects in the Third World is grant aided in any way whatsoever ! FAO, OCDE, and all the rest organise a plethora of conferences at vast expense to discuss Third World hunger, the struggle against malnutrition, and sustainable development, etc. They even, from time to time, rather charmingly come to the conclusion that the only solution to malnutrition in the rural areas of the underdeveloped world is to promote the family garden and local production ! It must be of great comfort to the under-developed countries to see the rich West putting at their disposition a panel of brilliant experts who are developping them forcefully and in a " sustainable " way .

Association Kokopelli has sent dozens of beautifully produced dossiers (in colour) to National, European and International Institutions, in order to present the work of Annadana in India. They have sent no reply. Did they perhaps think that we were promulgating " sustainable under-development " ? Perhaps they failed to register that access to seed is the fundamental pre-requisite to create the family garden ? Did they perhaps think that the transgenic rice of Monsanto, wonderfully enhanced with the gene of a daffodil to increase the rate of vitamin A, will open the way to alleviating World famine - provided each person eats 9 Kg (cooked weight) of this rice each and every day to get his daily intake of vitamin A ?

10 years ago the Fondation de France offered us its support in order to launch the dynamic of the preservation of the genetic resource. Last year the Goldsmith Foundation gave us a small grant. Also last year, Association Kokopelli was awarded the prize of the Fondation Denis Guichard ( under the aegis of the Fondation de France) which is given each year to someone working in the field of ecology.

All this is very fine but is quite simply not enough. It is a cry for help that we now send to the all the various NGO's, Associations and Foundations that may be susceptible to our message. It is an S.O.S. (Save Our Seeds) that we send to all those who struggle for a fertile future and to empower oases of fertile resistance !

Association Kokopelli needs support in order to maintain its task of enchanting the family gardener with the beautiful seeds of life, in Europe, in Africa and in Southern Asia.

We would would ask your kindness in circulating this " Manifesto for Survival ".

Dominique Guillet. June 1st, 2001.







'Biodiversity Threat'
by Hope Shand
The steamroller of modern monoculture and factory farming is sweeping away our crop and domestic livestock diversity, putting future food production at risk.
'Everything not permitted is forbidden'
by Jeremy Cherfas
In Europe, one set of legislation applies to giant intensive farmers and small home gardeners. That is why Europe's losses of genetic diversity are probably among the most severe in the developed world.
'Diversity’s Decline'
by Renee Vellve
Chapter from 'Saving The Seed, Genetic Diversity and European Agriculture', explaining processes behind the loss of agricultural diversity.
'Rescuing Traditional Food Crops' by Kent Whealy
founder of the US Seed Savers Exchange.
We are going to need all the genetic resources we can possibly muster to overcome what we are going to face in the future.
'The Importance of Diversity and Pressures for Uniformity.'
2 Chapters from Heritage Vegetables, The Gardeners Guide to Cultivating Diversity.
by Sue Strickland.
Many characteristics of our wild crops and old varieties are as yet unnoticed, unvalued, unrecognied or uneeded. These qualities may be vitally importnat in the future.
'Earmarked for Extinction, Seminis Eliminates 2,000 Varieties.'
Report by Rural Foundation International.
Announcement by Seminis, the world's largest vegetable seed corporation, that it would eliminate 2,000 varieties - or 25% of its total product line - as a cost-cutting measure.

 

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