Sunday, 5 May 2013

Without the humble seed:food security

Then we were taken to the seed bank. Well, it was, as I could see Ellen thought it would be, the highlight of the day. The Security was intense but the results were well worth it. It may not seem that exciting to look at, not like the Library, but oh all those drawers filled with the future of life. Many of them no longer have a niche Outside to grow in but still the Scientists germinate and grow them to collect the fresh seed and store it for that magical ‘one day’ that we all know we’ll never see.        Ellen’s Tale by Alberta Ross 2009

From the very beginning of The Sefuty Chronicles food security has been at its heart. Sefuty itself stands for it; Se = security, Fu= food. No matter what happens to us, the world, in the future, food security is still the most vital aspect of living. Always has been and always will. I have been running a short series here of collapsing civilisations, when the lack of food security has driven the demise of mighty empires and nations. We mess with food supplies at our peril.

I have blogged before about how precarious our hold on this security is. Natural disaster, or man made one. The global economy binds us all into the world in a frightening way. I cannot quote other countries, but this small overcrowded island is self sufficient only to the tune of 58.9%, despite the government of the day, back after the 2nd world war, declaring we should become self sufficient in the matter of food we import. We have 63+ million people (and rising) to feed and have areas already designated ‘arid’ zones - when I was at school ‘arid’ zones belonged somewhere overseas. Okay, most of us here could survive on half what we eat now if something drastic happened, but for how long, and how well?

All food comes from seeds. Even the meat and milk, grass feeds the animals who provide it. Our wood and many of our fabrics come from seeds. Life on earth as we know it would not have flourished, nor will it, without the humble seed. So the news this week that the EU - up to its tricks again- is thinking of banning heirloom seeds comes as another of those ‘When will we ever learn’ - ‘Doesn’t history teach us anything’ moment. This country doesn’t have to go far back in our history to remember the Great Hunger in Ireland when a million died of starvation when the potato crop they relied on failed, a million more emigrated. If our conveys had not prevailed during the second world war we probably would not, as a country, have survived.

Mankind’s stupid gene means we don’t ever learn our lessons, how can we be so clever and yet so stupid at the same time?

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