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Seeds for Sustainable Agriculture

Seeds for Sustainable Agriculture

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Sustainable Agriculture is the practice of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term.”
Sustainable Agriculture is the practice of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term.”

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Published by: Peoples Development Institute on Feb 10, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Seeds for Sustainable Agriculture
Written by Ramon T. Ayco, Sr.Edited by Rogelio Rustico G. Teves, agriculturist; and Ely M. SantosFebruary 2012
The Project Development Institute, through its program on Sustainable Agriculture, is deeplycommitted to the use and development of local seeds as the seed is the most basic input inagriculture being the source of a plant.
Sustainable Agriculture
is the practice of farming using principles of ecology,the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as "an integratedsystem of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will lastover the long term.
Sustainable Agriculture is doing away with inorganic fertilizers and pesticides like herbicidesand insecticides because these chemicals kill earthworms and microbes, the makers of naturalfertilizers. Not using chemicals will allow these natural makers of organic fertilizers to thrivewhich in turn will help us regain the yield and sustainability of our land, with minimal cost.Moreover, extensive use of these chemical fertilizers and pesticides has been linked to pollutionand serious health problems.In 1990, the US government defined sustainable agriculture in Public Law 101-624, Title XVI,
Subtitle A, Section 1683, as “an integrated system of plant and animal production practices
having a site-specific application that will, over the long term, satisfy human food and fiberneeds; enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculturaleconomy depends; make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resourcesand integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; sustain the economic
viability of farm operations; and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”
Local and Improved Seeds
Organically grown crops provide the seed requirement for Sustainable Agriculture.The local and indigenous seeds are what
are referred to as “
heirloom seeds
-- seeds that havebeen faithfully reproduced and handed down from generation to generation, these seeds haveunmatched richness of flavor, nutritional benefit, and resistance to diseases and tolerance toadverse weather conditions like droughts. These seeds have a long history, and may have beenplants that were grown by your great-great grandparents.A plant is considered to be an heirloom if it is an open-pollinated cultivar that is over 50 yearsold. If you raised a plant, and kept its seeds and replanted them every year for 50 years, youwould have an heirloom plant. "Open-pollination" ensures that the plant will reproduce itself trueto form, so that the new plant will looks just like the parent plant.When heirloom gardeners refer to open-pollination, they mean that a particular cultivar can begrown from seed and will come back "true to type." In other words, the next generation will look  just like its parent.
 Now, however, there are more and more vegetables that will not come back "true to type." Forexample, plant nearly any hybrid tomato, and save the seeds. Then plant it again in the nextplanting season and see what happens. The seed may not even germinate, since it may be sterile.If it does sprout, the young plants will probably not have many of the characteristics of the parentplant, nor will it look anything like the plant you got the seeds from. While hybrids have manyoutstanding qualities, the ability to reproduce themselves is not one of them.Heirloom plants have developed resistance to certain pests and diseases and are hardier andhealthier than hybrids. Their original genetic material is intact and the plants' uniquereproductive and immune information has been preserved. Heirloom fruits and vegetables havestronger flavors, and come in many different and unique colors, sizes, and shapes.Organic seed production follow the principles of ecological farming such as conservation of biodiversity, protection of natural soil fertility, recycling, natural resource conservation,appropriate pest management and maintenance of genetic resources and cultivars. Banned arepractices that lead to accumulation of heavy metals and other pollutants. Basic slag, rock phosphate and sewage sludge have high heavy metal content and other unwanted substances andthus are not allowed. Management of manure and crop rotations are encouraged. Non-syntheticmineral fertilizers (i.e., supplements and other brought-in fertilizers of biological origin) are notconsidered replacements for nutrient.
Hybrid and Genetically Modified Seeds
Hybrid seeds are seeds that have actually been bred for commercial growers. When you orderseeds from most seed suppliers, this is what you are getting. Plants are bred to resist certaindiseases or pesticides. A hybridized plant is the result of a cross between two varieties of plant.When seeds are taken from the cross-pollinated plant, these seeds cannot reproduce the parentplant, but will revert back to one of the parent plants. Hybridization has caused loss in color,flavor, and adaptability. Not to mention the thousands of plants that have been lost to us foreverbecause of the monopolization of big seed companies like Monsanto and others.Modern hybridizations not only do not reproduce the original plants faithfully, but the new plantsmay be unable to adapt to changes in the environment. Hybrid plants do not have the samestrength, vigor, or immunity against disease that Heirloom plants have. Seeds that have beenchanged genetically to resist the application of herbicides become sterile and cannot reproducethemselves.Planting only genetically modified seeds can lead to serious problems. First, relying solely onmodified seeds and neglecting to preserve genuine heirloom seeds, presents the very realpossibility of our multitudes of plant varieties becoming extinct, due to lack of conservation anduse. Second, modified seeds are incapable of reproducing themselves faithfully, so if they are theonly seeds being used, there is no way of saving them for planting next year!! Especially if theyare modified seeds with "terminator genes" -- then they are incapable of being grown again.If we have let all our local varieties of crops become extinct, what are we going to plant? Many
thousands of plant varieties have now become extinct. For example, how many kinds of rices doyou think there used to be at one time? Over 3,000!!! Now there are only a couple of varietiesplanted in the fields. The situation is the same with other kinds of food plants and fruits. Thereare not very many local varieties left.Commercial growers who only grow hybrid crops run the risk of a fungus or plant diseasedestroying their whole crop, as the plant may not be resistant to all diseases, but only what theywere engineered to be resistant such as herbicides (Round-UP). Because of this, there is the risk that weeds sprayed with herbicides could develop resistance and produce monster weeds that canseriously compete with crops and thus reduce its yield.
GM Foods, Harmful and Dangerous
More and more scientists are attesting to the fact that genetically modified (GM) crops producefoods that are harmful and dangerous.In a recent study posted in the website of Institute for Responsible Technology, the AmericanAcademy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM)
reported that “Several animal studies indicateserious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems,
accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinalsystem. The AAEM asked physicians to advise patients to avoid GM foods.Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to allow GMOs into foodwithout labeling, FDA scientists had repeatedly warned that GM foods can create unpredictable,hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritionalproblems. They urged long-term safety studies, but were ignored.Since then, findings include:
Thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in India died after grazing on Bt cotton plants
Mice eating GM corn for the long term had fewer, and smaller, babies
More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, and weresmaller
Testicle cells of mice and rats on a GM soy change significantly
By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies
Rodents fed GM corn and soy showed immune system responses and signs of toxicity
Cooked GM soy contains as much as 7-times the amount of a known soy allergen
Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced
The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a conditionthat may lead to cancer.
Studies showed organ lesions, altered liver and pancreas cells, changed enzyme levels,etc.Unlike safety evaluations for drugs, there are no human clinical trials of GM foods. The onlypublished human feeding experiment revealed that the genetic material inserted into GM soytransfers into bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function. This means that

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