Following an initiative last March by the Traditional Native American
Farmers' Association and others, Santa Fe County, NM has passed a
landmark "Declaration of Seed Sovereignty," addressing GMO
contamination in context of the specific threats it poses to
indigenous agricultures. More information is available at
Whereas, our ability to grow food is the culmination of countless
generations of sowing and harvesting seeds and those seeds are the
continuation of an unbroken line from our ancestors to us and to our
children and grandchildren.
Whereas, our ancestors developed a relationship with plants that
allowed their cultivation for food and medicine and this has been a
central element of our culture and our survival for millennia in
regions throughout the world.
Whereas, the concurrent development of cultures of Eurasia, Africa,
and the Americas resulted in a plethora of food and crop types
including grains such as maize and wheat; legumes such as beans and
lentils; fruits such as squash and chile; vegetables such as spinach
and those of the cabbage family; and roots such as potatoes and turnips.
Whereas these foods and crops, though developed independently of each
other, came together in New Mexico with the meeting of Spanish,
Mexican, and Native American cultures to create a unique and diverse
indigenous agricultural system and land-based culture.
Whereas, just as our families are attached to our homes, our seeds
learn to thrive in their place of cultivation by developing a
relationship with the soil, water, agricultural practices,
ceremonies, and prayers; thereby giving seeds a sacred place in our
families and communities.
Whereas, the way in which seeds become attached to a place makes them
native seeds, also known as landraces, also makes them an important
element of the generational memory of our communities.
Whereas the continued nurturing of native seeds or landraces has
provided the basis for the community coming together for communal
work such as cleaning acequias and preparing fields as well as in
ceremony, prayers, and blessings; thereby binding our communities,
traditions, and cultures together.
Whereas the practices embodied in working the land and water and
caring for seeds provides the basis for our respectful connection to
the Earth and with each other.
Whereas, our practices in caring for native seeds (landraces) and
growing crops provide for much of our traditional diet and results in
our ability to feed ourselves with healthy food that is culturally
and spiritually significant.
Whereas, clean air, soil, water and landscapes have been essential
elements in the development and nurturing of seeds as well as the
harvesting of wild plants; and that these elements of air, land, and
water have been contaminated to certain degrees.
Whereas corporate seed industries have created a technology that
takes the genetic material from a foreign species and inserts it into
a landrace and is known as Genetically Engineered (GE) or transgenic crops.
Whereas seed corporations patent the seeds, genetics, and/or the
processes used in the manipulation of landraces, and have gone so far
as to patent other wild plants or the properties contained in the plants.
Whereas GE crops have escaped into the environment with maize in
Oaxaca, Mexico and canola in Canada and crossed into native seeds and
Whereas organic farmers have been sued by seed corporations when
these patented genetic strains have been identified in the farmers'
crops, even though the farmers were unable to see or stop pollen from
genetically engineered crops from blowing over the landscape and into
their fields, thus contaminating the farmers' crops.
Whereas the effect of this technology on the environment or human
health when consumed is not fully understood.
Whereas the seed industry refuses to label GE seeds and food products
containing GE ingredients.
Whereas the pervasiveness of GE crops in our area cannot then be
fully known due to the lack of labeling and therefore carries the
potential for genetic pollution on our landraces.
Whereas countries such as Japan, England, and countries in Africa
have refused genetically modified foods and prohibit the introduction
of GE crops on their lands because of their unknown health effects.
Whereas indigenous cultures around the world are the originators,
developers, and owners of the original genetic material used in the
genetic modification of crops by corporations today.
Whereas this declaration must be a living, adaptable document that
can be amended as needed in response to rapidly changing GE
technology that brings about other potential assaults to seeds and our culture.
Now therefore be it resolved, that the Board of County Commissioners
of Santa Fe County supports the following:
* The traditional farmers of Indo-Hispano and Native American
ancestry of current-day northern New Mexico collectively and
intentionally seek to continue the seed-saving traditions of our
ancestors and maintain the landraces that are indigenous to the
region of northern New Mexico.
* Seek to engage youth in the continuation of the traditions of
growing traditional foods, sharing scarce water resources, sharing
seeds, and celebrating our harvests.
* Reject the validity of corporations' ownership claims to crops and
wild plants that belong to our cultural history and identity.
* Object to the seed industry's refusal to label seeds or products
containing GE technology and ingredients and demand all genetically
modified seeds and foods containing GE ingredients in the State of
New Mexico to be labeled as such.
* Object to the cultivation of GE seeds in general but especially
within range of our traditional agricultural systems that can lead to
the contamination of our seeds, wild plants, traditional foods, and
* We will work with each other, local, tribal, and state governments
to create zones that will be free of genetically modified organisms
(GMOs) and GE technology.
* We will also work together to address other environmental abuses
that contaminate our air, soil and water quality that certainly
affects our health, the health of our seeds and agriculture, and the
health of future generations.
* We will work together with the traditional farmers representing
various acequia, Pueblo, tribal and surrounding communities to
create, support, and collaborate toward projects and programs focused
on revitalization of food traditions, agriculture, and seed saving and sharing.
Passed, approved and adopted this 30th day of January, 2007
Board of County Commissioners
Virginia Vigil, Chair
Valerie Espinoza, Santa Fe County Clerk
Stephen C. Ross, Santa Fe County Attorney