Episode 3-1: Aabir Dey on Seed Security / by Glen Jameson

I couldn't figure out a good title to this podcast. That's on me, because when you listen to Aabir Dey, the Regional Program Coordinator for the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, the only headline that will come to your mind is a combination of "LISTEN TO THIS PERSON" and weak wordplay on the idiom gone to seed. Aabir works with Ontario farmers and agricultural institutions to develop a local seed system in Canada and foster better seed security policy. Aabir's work is really interesting to me and really important to Canada. Canada just might not know it yet.

In an age where most Canadian grain/corn/soy/sugar/alfalfa is grown from proprietary seed and everything else is grown from seed that is imported from abroad, Aabir and the Bauta Initiative are arguing that our seed system needs some help to retain characteristics. The characteristics, like "regionally adapted," "open source," "biodiverse germplasm," and "secure seed", should matter to everyone. Aabir speaks clearly and with insight on how ecological vegetable farmers need some help and how the farmer's public service as a producer of food and public good needs to be reexamined at a policy and legal level. Canada doesn't have a celebrity chef like Dan Barber to bring into the mainstream these major issues of agricultural policy. If we have more people like Aabir and his colleagues working on the issue, maybe that's okay. Maybe their voices will be heard.

I've divided this podcast into two parts: the first focuses on identifying the problems present in today's ecological seed market, the gap in public actors to address those problems, and how we might fill that gap in the future. Part two involves a discussion about Canada's international treaty obligations, our seed laws and regulations, and the changing perception of the role of the farmer. It should be available in a day or two. Apologies to the binge-listeners.

If you want to learn more about what's happening in Canadian seed security, Aabir recommends checking out USC CanadaSeeds of Diversity, and Everdale (Bauta's regional partner in Ontario and where I volunteer as a director). In this podcast we also discuss the Svalbard Global Seed Bank, ICARDA - The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, and Dan Barber's Blue Hill Farms - Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture