Local representatives want to preserve local seeds

Posted at: 12/26/2013 6:43 PM
Updated at: 12/26/2013 8:31 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Unless you’re a gardener or a farmer you probably don’t think about seeds a lot. But two members of our state’s congressional delegation do – and they’ve come up with legislation aimed at saving some traditional seeds from going extinct.

Rep. Michele Lujan Grisham and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan are sponsors of the Native American Seeds Protection Act. The idea is to help Indian tribes keep the seed stock of their ancient traditional crops alive and as pure as they can be. Scientists fear that drought, global warming, forest fires and floods could wipe out the seed supplies of the plants that Indians use, not just for food but for religious and medicinal purposes.

Bernalillo County’s extension agent for agriculture says it’s a great idea.

“If we don’t have a way of replacing those seeds, growing them out and saving valuable seeds for the next generation, many of the plants and many of the foods we’ve grown up with will be lost,” said John Garlisch.

Storage is a critical issue. Some seeds have a long shelf life if stored properly, while others don’t last long. That’s why the bill includes construction money for storage as well as funding for research and training.

Does the bill have a chance of becoming federal law? Maybe so. Lujan Grisham is a member of the House Agriculture Committee, which is certain to play a key role in the debate.