Background & Objectives
With the intensification in the agricultural sector, a commercialized, privatized and more and more monopolized system of plant breeding and seed production has developed: It focuses on a narrow spectrum of high yield varieties for the industrial agriculture and therefore contributes substantially to the worldwide loss of cultivated crop plant variety. The Commons-based variety breeding and seed production presents an approach to counteract genetical erosion of crop plant variety and thus promotes food sovereignty.
Especially in countries of the Global South, Commons-based approaches such as seed exchange systems, community seed banks and participatory plant breeding are successfully practiced. More recently, seed initiatives in the context of organic plant breeding in Germany have emerged that are starting to integrate principles of Commons in their work.
The research project´s goal is to explore the transformative potential of Commons-based seed systems for a social-ecological plant cultivation and how this potential can be enhanced. Therefore, the functioning and context factors of actors employing this alternative approach to variety breeding and seed production are assessed both from theoretical and practical perspectives. Moreover, promising breeding approaches, business models, communication and governance strategies are to be developed for the participating seed initiatives. Moreover, the project aims at initiating learning processes between Commons-based seed initiatives at the national and international level.
Inter- and Transdisciplinarity
Integrating perspectives from ecology, economics, political science and ethics, as well as collaborating with German and Philippine seed stakeholders, RightSeeds follows an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach. At the Carl-von-Ossietzky University Oldenburg, the philosophical and institutional economics analyses are centered: The former addresses how Commons-based seed systems enable actors to personal well-being by supporting capabilities. The latter addresses how institutions in the multi-level governance system affect Commons-based seed and variety initiatives and how they can enlarge their scope for action. The Institute for Ecological Economics Research investigates the organizational structures of social entrepreneurs and their role for the provision of common goods. Additionally, field experiments with vegetable varieties will be carried out by the Agroecology group of the Universität Göttingen.
Central actors in the fields of organic plant breeding, seed production, distribution and marketing constitute the practical partners in the German-speaking context (Kultursaat e.V., Saat:gut e.V., Bingenheimer Saatgut AG, tegut, Bundesverband Naturkost Naturwaren). Other partners are AGRECOL e.V., an association that works at the interface between science and practice for the establishment of seeds as common goods; Arche Noah e.V, engaging for the preservation of crop diversity also on a political level, and MASIPAG in the Philippines, which is a network of 35.000 rice grower families, scientists and NGOs. The practical partners’ integration is implemented by initiating, monitoring/mentoring and South-North exchanges, regular focus groups and workshops, interviews, as well as joint field experiments.
Special Session on Seed Commons at the IASC Commoning Conference
Within their special Session on Seed Commons researchers from RightSeeds (University of Oldenburg, IÖW) and University of Bonn invite participants to discuss the transformative potential of commoning approaches in plant breeding. For this purpose, they will show case studies from the global South as well as the global North and present different analytical approaches and perspectives around Seed Commons. Please find a flyer with additional information here.
Symposium Issue on Seed Commons
We are very happy to announce that the Symposium Issue on Seed Commons has been published in Agriculture and Human Values. Very interesting articles have been submitted to our call for contributions. They are now available via open acces on the journal’s website:
- Beumer, K., Stemerding, D. & Swart, J.A.A. Innovation and the commons: lessons from the governance of genetic resources in potato breeding
- Halewood, M., Bedmar Villanueva, A., Rasolojaona, J. et al. Enhancing farmers’ agency in the global crop commons through use of biocultural community protocols
- Mazé, A., Calabuig Domenech, A. & Goldringer, I. Commoning the seeds: alternative models of collective action and open innovation within French peasant seed groups for recreating local knowledge commons.
- Rattunde, F., Weltzien, E., Sidibé, M. et al. Transforming a traditional commons-based seed system through collaborative networks of farmer seed-cooperatives and public breeding programs: the case of sorghum in Mali.
- Sievers-Glotzbach, S., Christinck, A. Introduction to the symposium: seed as a commons—exploring innovative concepts and practices of governing seed and varieties.
- Sievers-Glotzbach, S.; Euler, J.; Frison, C.; Kliem, L.; Mazé, A. & Tschersich, J. Beyond the material: knowledge aspects in seed commoning.
The Symposium Issue originated from the RightSeeds workshop “Conceptualizing the News Commons” in 2018 and builds on of the fruitful exchange on Seed Commons during the period after the workshop. It is edited jointly by Stefanie Sievers-Glotzbach (RightSeeds) and Anja Christinck (Seeds4Change). The articles provide conceptional contributions on Seed Commons as well as various practical examples from different countries.
We want to thank all authors for their contributions!
Communication workshop with practice partners and experts
+++ Update +++
In another digital meeting in March 2021, we were able to share the results of the workshop in 2020 with the participants and discuss initial ideas for implementing communication measures.
We are very pleased that a group of interested partners for further cooperation was formed at this meeting. Together, we want to agree on contents and develop concrete proposals for the communication measures on organic and commons-based plant breeding in the coming months.
Since 2016 we have been doing research on commons based organic plant breeding – now we want to increasingly want to communicate our findings. In November 2020, we invited our practice partners and other experts from the areas of breeding, processing, trade, science and communication to contribute their ideas. In the process, we could draw insights from our work in RightSeeds while the invited participants were able to bring in broad knowledge from their previous work (including within the framework of Bioverita). In two professional online workshops, we have developed a joint communication strategy.
The ideas collected, will now be summarized and made publicly available in the course of the year. The aim is to support various players along the value chain to communicate the advantages of organic breeding in a comprehensible way.
We would like to thank all participants for their diverse input and look forward to further cooperation!
[Postponed to 2021] Juli 2020 | Our project partner MASIPAG will visit breeders, seed companies and seed initiatives in Germany.
21.-23.04.2021 Special Session on Seed Commons at IASC Commoning Conference (Organized by RightSeeds in cooperation with University of Bonn)
08.-10.03.2021 Presentation of inisghts from RightSeeds at the EUCARPIA/LIVESEED conference on “Breeding and Seed sector Innovations for Organic Food Systems”
02.03.2021 Online presentation of the results from the RS communication workshop
23.11 /30.11.2020 RS Workshop – communication strategies for commons-based organic breeding
15.10.2020 Engagement.Biobreeding Workshop – How organic breeding adds value to the food chain
26.02.2020 Research Day at UBC Farm: Lea Kliem talked about the contribution of commons-based plant breeding and seed production to the social-ecological resilience of the agricultural sector
12.-15.02.2020 RightSeeds participated in the Organic Seed Growers Conference
21.-25.10.2019 | ESP 10 World Conference: 10 Years of advancing ecosystem services science, policy and practice for a sustainable future
4.-10.2.2019 | South-North-Exchange with our german and philippine project partners in Santa Rosa, Nueva Ecija, Luzon, Philippines.
22.-23.1.2019 | two-day workshop by SEARICE in Quezon, Philippines: Taking a Stand for the Future of Seeds, Food and Agriculture: A Multi-Stakeholder Workshop