Whose harvest? The politics of organic seed certification

, by Grain

The vision behind organic agriculture is one in which care for the environment and health are central, and farmers get a fair deal for their efforts. But organic agriculture is also becoming serious business – with marketing tools, like certification, occupying more and more space and influence. More than 30 million hectares of certified organic farmland worldwide already produce goods for a global market worth €30 billion.

This market, moreover, is growing fast, much faster than the global market for conventional food products. The main markets for certified organic foods are still very much in the North, but organic production for export is steadily increasing in the South, as are new strategies at the grassroots to develop local organic food and farming systems – most of which reject the business approach to certification.

The big multinational corporations that dominate the food trade and retail markets have changed their view of organics as the markets for organic foods have grown over the last decade or so. They no longer see them as a threat to be destroyed but as a growing market to be conquered.Read