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Agriculture and common goods in challenge : Water, seeds and knowledge. How do we answer?

Kostas Koutis
AEGILOPS – Network for Biodiversity and Ecology in Agriculture
The painful experience of the financial crisis, as experienced today millions of people around
the world, Europe and Greece also, revealed the fact of challenging of our common goods:
Challenging the access and free use (benefit) of common goods,- unchallenged until
recently – of paramount importance for our life such as food, water, health, education, work
What precedes this challenge is usually their methodical depreciation and what follows after
is the final manipulation, control and their privatization. To their depreciation contribute
often misleading scientific “evidence”, attractive novel substitutes and the shift in
consuming. On the other hand, to their privatization, assist legal and other financial
commitments which multinational companies and market economy key stakeholders impose
on states and citizens through globalization and dominance of the financial system.
Agriculture recently invited to play an essential role in the survival of people in the middle
of crisis and contribute with primitive values and its functionality to the production of
sufficient, safe and quality food, accessible to all. Water, plant genetic resources (seeds and
varieties), soil fertility, traditional and scientific knowledge/ management experience are
part of the universal common goods of strategic importance for agriculture. Citizens’
movements after the Green Revolution (and the devastating consequences on biodiversity,
ecosystem health, diet quality and natural resources), demonstrated the global awareness
on protecting and defending common goods of agriculture. The promotion of organic
farming, the blocking of genetically modified organisms, the protection of traditional
varieties and quality of water is only part of the demands imposed by the citizens of Europe
to their parliaments in recent decades.
Efforts of manipulation and control of common goods are apparent today and citizens’
movements are facing new challenges. The proposed revision of the European regulation on
seeds, although been rejected due to reaction of citizens, showed the industry’s appetites
towards seed market and will definitely come back. The legalization of GMO cultivation in
Europe, the forthcoming transatlantic agreement dragging states to court by multinationals,
unscrupulous gold mining industry swallowing virgin forests and the water privatization
efforts is today’s reality. A rain of propaganda and slandering of movements, arrests andthreats are what have been experienced by those who defended vigorously common goods
and the future of their children.
For the most of farmers of our country, unfortunately, the commons of agriculture is of
lower priority. In farmers’ blocks every February are missing demands for the freedom of
seed, and self management in spite of the rich tradition of the peasant movement in our
country. Adherence to subsidies and monocultures, the emphasis on agriculture under
contracts and persistence in Pharaonic project of the diversion of Acheloos river to plains
indicate the priorities of today’s agricultural world. Despite the strong seed movement in
Greece, the vast majority of farmers still winks at hybrids, intensive crops, subsidies and
contracts with industry. The agrobiotechnology lobby produces knowledge to appease public
opinion and attractive incentives for farmers. Water contractors roam the country and covet
local authorities and political power. How do we respond to this reality?
It is time to recover and cooperate. It is not enough only to denounce and protest. At the
same time, we must strengthen our management capacity, improve our ability and become
more effective. We must create a new reality. Not enough to gather seeds, we must learn to
utilize them to address climate change and produce seeds of freedom. Not enough to stop
laws. We must know how to propose new ones. Let’s stop the propaganda and knowledge of
perjurer scientists. Let’s create our experience, utilizing the traditional knowledge
management and encouraging young scientists to serve the common goods. Let’s try to
introduce organic farming in the valleys now, not only in the mountains. Let’s make
intermediaries useless and safeguard water. Let’s make agriculture again the mother of all
arts. Mother of our common goods.

Building a park for Society and Movements at the former ‘Eliniko’ airport

The Elliniko ex-airport remains the last large public, free, unbuilt space in all of Athens. In that sense it may be seen as a common good and a “common resource”. To the extent that the social and ecological transformation of production based on collective needs is now becoming a central goal, the ex- airport and the beach of Agios Kosmas, may be scope of policies to promote social reappropriation through models of cooperative, social and solidarity economy. We believe that the active participation of society is nowadays a major issue. The former Greek airport can be converted into a meeting place which supports creative activities, citizens’ initiatives, cooperative actions, self-managed ventures and more. We believe that the realization of such a project is absolutely feasible and it has to emerge from the spontaneous mobilization of the citizens of Athens.
The “Self-managed farm of Ellinikο is based on alternative, social and solidarity economy models has been created as a collective effort by a citizens group as a response to the crisis that p the Greek community. This attempt wants to answer in four major aspects: