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Naturland

Naturland on the occasion of World Food Day on 16th October

2016 Agropia Kartoffelvielfalt 350Farmers of the peruvian cooperative Agropia cultivate more than 400 potato varieties

On the occasion of World Food Day on 16th October, Naturland is calling attention to how important smallholders are to food security. This claim is backed up by the Global Hunger Index for 2016 just recently published which emphasised the importance of making sustainable increases in smallholders’ productivity. The prerequisite to do so is free access to seed, and a diversity of varieties. However, once Bayer has taken over Monsanto, exactly the opposite will be the case.

“The power of seed and pesticide groups today poses a threat to the genetic foundation of our food“, warns Hans Hohenester, organic farmer and chairman of Naturland’s board of directors. A wide genetic spectrum is important for crops, because it enables them to adapt to fluctuations in environmental conditions. This is exactly what is called for in the sustainability objectives to which Germany has committed itself.

Sustainability objectives require genetic diversity to combat hunger

Somewhat over a year ago, a United Nations special summit passed a list of sustainable development goals. The second objective on the list deals with ending hunger, achieving food security and better food provision, and encouraging sustainable agriculture. An explicit demand therein was to preserve the genetic diversity of seed and of crops as well as of livestock and domestic animals and to secure access to them. The merger of Bayer and Monsanto, however, creates a megacorporation which will control almost one third of global seed production.

Support smallholders in their efforts to intensify organic agriculture

Organic agriculture focuses on self-sufficient methods of cultivation adapted to local conditions. The diversity of these tailor-made solutions depends on the availability of a wide range of local varieties which have adapted to the local climate and environment, thus guaranteeing the smallholders good yields. One good example of this can be found in Peru, at 3,500 metres above sea level. Agropia, a Naturland smallholders’ co-operative, grows over 400 different varieties of potato, which produce good and reliable yields despite the difficult local conditions.
The Bayer-Monsanto model, however, is geared towards patented high yield seed as a package combined with artificial fertiliser and pesticides, which not only the farmers pay for dearly. “If Germany’s Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture, Christian Schmidt, is counting on Bayer, then he is setting the fox to keep the geese,” says Hohenester. Schmidt spoke in favour of the take-over and expressed his firm conviction that Bayer would transfer its sustainability strategy to the new sectors of the enterprise.