Percy Schmesier is a Canadian farmer who has spent decades fighting seed giant Monsanto in an effort to protect regional food systems, heirloom seeds, and farmers’ autonomy against cooperate seed ownership. He is a 1997 recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (often referred to as the alternative Nobel Peace Prize), the subject of the documentary Percy Schmeiser: David versus Monsanto, and travels around the world advocating for farmers’ rights. His work addresses issues such as patents and the right to private ownership of seeds and seed research.
In this interview with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman he discusses his legal battles with Monsanto, the need for heirloom seeds to keep our food system diverse and healthy, and the incredibly troubling concept of the GMO “terminator seed” that forces farmers to buy seed each year rather than save seed, a concept he calls an “assault on life.” He also outlines his principles of food and agriculture:
“Well, first of all, that all humans—number one, all humans have a right to food or to produce it, and that, number two, is that natural systems must be protected so that they can produce healthy food. Humans have a right to safe and nutritious food. And no rules should prevent countries controlling food imports. And everyone has a right to information about how their food is produced. Regions should have the right to regulate their own agriculture. Local production and consumption should be encouraged. So, like we say, local consumption or local produce, then you save the energy and the fuel that it’s required to move it thousands of miles, which happens, although, to a lot of us in North America. And seeds are a common property resource. And that’s where we felt very strongly that no one should have the right to the future of seeds. And then, no forms—no life forms should be patented. And terminator seeds should be globally banned. And we have a strong opinion that terminator seeds should never, never, ever be introduced, because, to us, it’s the—I think the most serious assault on life we’ve ever seen on this planet. When they come out with—want to come out with a gene that terminates the future of the germination of that seed, so that would totally control the world seed supply.”
Watch the entire interview here.
Want to know more about why many consumers and farmers take issue with Monsanto? There is a ton of information out there, but here is a great place to start learning more about many of the grievances against the company.
To read more about Percy Schmeiser, visit his webpage.
Folklorists (and others too!): How do you think his work addresses issues of human rights and traditional knowledge? Any thoughts on how his work intersects with the field or related fields? Let’s discuss.