Last year I heard Vandana Shiva speak as a part of Women and Water Rights week here at the U of M. While most of her talk was in regards to water, she also mentioned seed banks to protect diversity. She said these seed banks were important because the seeds were naturally adapted to grow in dry, overly saturated, or other specific growing conditions. I don't remember exactly what the contrast was to GMO seeds, but they might not have been able to do that. Also, these seed banks provide a variety of seeds that promote polycultures. In this week's reading, Shiva says, "When they conserve seed, they conserve diversity; and when they conserve diversity, they conserve a balance and harmony" (457). This balance and harmony in the soil doesn't exist in monoculture farming. In monocultures, the lack of crop diversity drains the soil of essential nutrients and is not sustainable agriculture.
While working at a camp this summer, I was very impressed when I learned that we acquired the seeds for our garden from a local seed saver group. Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit located in Decorah, Iowa that collects heirloom seeds and stores them in Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. Svalbard holds over 500,000 varieties of rare seeds from all over the world. Talk about diversity! In an age where most farmers by their genetically modified seeds from corporations like Monsanto year after year because Monsanto doesn't allow farmers to save their seeds, it delights me to know that traditional, sustainable, and organic methods of seed saving still happen in our country.