• Seva Corps


Creole seeds are the reproductive plant structures of old plant varieties that are kept by farmers and gardeners, which have often been used and improved since the beginning of human history, but are not used in modern intensive agriculture. They can be seeds, for example the seeds of corn and beans, but they can also be the reproductive vegetative structures such as branches, roots or tubers.

It is believed that the domestication of plants and animals began around 11,000 years ago in the region of what we now know as Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. Probably after the first domestications of cereal grains, humans began to recognize degrees of excellence among the plants in their fields and saved the seeds of the best fields for planting new crops.

These seed selections are considered to be the beginnings of genetic improvement in plants. It is believed that the domesticated species initially possessed great genetic variety, which reflected in great heterogeneity of the plants, in terms of growing time, differences in development and grain quality. As the cultivation and selection of the best grains were carried out by our ancestors, some undesirable characteristics of these plants were eliminated, such as the reduction of seed dormancy, for example. On the other hand, qualities were selected that were convenient for the purpose for which the cultivation of a certain plant was intended, such as color, flavor, aroma, yield, plant size, among other aspects. The choice of certain attributes for fixation, to the detriment of others, initiated a selection pressure.

This deliberate selection of interesting attributes for human development already initiates a process of reduction of genetic variability in the modified species. Although the valorization, use, and dissemination of native seeds is linked to environmental preservation, it is not a matter of environmental preservation under an untouched nature viewpoint. It is about the preservation of essential resources in accordance with the use and manipulation of these resources to promote the life and well-being of society.

Creole seeds remind us of our ancestry, these seeds are a link that connects us directly to the traditions of the people who lived and cultivated them before us. These seeds are the natural and cultural riches that are passed on to new generations. With the cultivation of native varieties we can perceive the different forms and architecture of the plant, colors, shapes of grains and fruits, existing between one variety and another of the same species.

In general, it can be said that foods from landraised varieties are healthier than those from modern agriculture, since the family farmers or traditional farmers who use these seeds prefer not to use pesticides or use them as little as possible. This is made possible by more diverse cropping systems, not centered on the use of monocultures.

The maintenance and conservation of native varieties is of great importance, because in them are the genetic resources that can be rescued to obtain new modern cultivars. Knowing this, the multinational companies that own the hybrid or transgenic cultivars have their own seed banks (germplasm banks), where the most diverse ancestral and native varieties are stored, which are called accessions. These accessions are the rescue sources for important genes that were lost in the development of new cultivars, which can be rescued at any time by the companies that preserve them properly stored.

The maintenance of native varieties is extremely important for the various reasons explained above. However, for a more accurate vision and understanding of the reality and the possibilities of social transformation in which the use of these seeds is inserted, it is also necessary to recognize the contemporary scientific development that our agriculture has been going through. In my opinion, hybrid seeds, as well as genetically modified seeds, should not necessarily be seen as harmful to humanity or as the salvation of humanity. They are just products of the development of human intelligence and persistence, which are suitable for certain situations of productive arrangement and technological investment, such as what occurs in corporate agriculture. In this context, these technologies meet the productivity and investment demands required for the operation of complex production chains. On the other hand, the use of native seeds is the most appropriate in subsistence, family, or small-scale entrepreneurial farming where the productive arrangements allow the use of intercropping, greater use of human labor, and less need for fertilization.

By Marcos Vieira/Brazil

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