The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU Working Paper - No. 144

Responding to Eco-Imperialism: Promoting Seed Knowledge as a Commons

Map of community seed banks ©Navdanya 2011

19 June 2012

Author: Fong Yee Chan

Publication Date: 2012

How can we address the pressing problems with our global food situation? There is little doubt that over the years, our food system has become intricately linked with socio-ecological conditions, making any solution highly complicated. This working paper asserts that our food system has been underpinned by the eco-imperialism paradigm which has imposed a mechanistic, top down centralized approach of commoditizing and commercializing resources in order to feed an increasingly globalized and industrialized society.

The implications of this paradigm are multi-fold ranging from environmental degradation to the alienation of people from nature and the breakdown of social structures. We propose that a viable entry point for responding to eco-imperialism is by promoting seed knowledge as a commons. Through studying the Navdanya seed sharing movement, we demonstrate that a commons paradigm can encourage citizen engagement, transform the way people learn, reduce dependency relations, and build models for collaborative innovation, all of which contests the domination of knowledge which has made eco-imperialism possible.