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Backround & 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.


Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

International Seed Markets – Some facts we collected

Using less and less available edible plant species for global human consumption has manifested as a trend in the 20th century. At the same time, the seed value chain has grown more complex since seeds are not produced in farming communities anymore. Breeding, multiplication and marketing are often conducted by specialized companies. Increasing consolidation is a concern for the global seed industry… More…

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Agreements on variety protection and seed sovereignty of small farmers

Since the World Trade Organization adopted the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 1995, member states have been obliged to protect new plant varieties through patent law, an effective sui-generis system or a combination of the two. The best-known sui-generis system is… More…

Photo: RightSeeds
Photo: RightSeeds

South-North Exchange – MASIPAG Workshop in the Philippines

At the beginning of February 2019, the RightSeeds research team travelled to the Philippine island of Luzon, more precisely in Rajal Centro, Santa Rosa, Nueva Ecija, accompanied by German practice partners. Together with the Philippine network MASIPAG (Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development) they conducted a six-day workshop and discussed about More…

Photo: RightSeeds
Photo: RightSeeds

Ongoing Preparations for MASIPAG Visit 2020

With the experiences and impressions of our research trip to the Philippines in mind, we have now started planning the visit of the MASIPAG coordinators, breeders and farmers to Germany for 2020. During a one-week round trip, the German and Philippine partners, together with RightSeeds, will continue to exchange ideas on various topics related to commons-based plant breeding. Currently, the Philippine and German More…

Upcoming events

Juli 2020 | Our project partner MASIPAG will visit breeders, seed companies and seed initiatives in Germany.

Past events

4.-10.2.2019 | South-North-Exchange with our german and philippine project partners in Santa Rosa, Nueva Ecija, Luzon, Philippines.

22.-23.1.2019two-day workshop by SEARICE in Quezon, Philippines: Taking a Stand for the Future of Seeds, Food and Agriculture: A Multi-Stakeholder Workshop

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