Reclaiming the Seeds, Becoming “Peasants”: On-Farm Agrobiodiversity Conservation and the Making of Farmers’ Collective Identity


The emergence of a professional seed industry over the course of the twentieth century has been concomitant with the construction of a regime of innovation favorable to breeders and to a transformation in the nature of plants themselves. Together, these elements have led farmers engaged in industrialized forms of agriculture to outsource most of their seed-related activities. In the 2000s, however, new developments in the anti-GMO struggle and the toughening of seed laws led an alliance of French farmers to try to build alternatives to the dominant industrial seed system. The Réseau Semences Paysannes (“Peasant Seed Network”) was set up in 2003 as a result of this alliance. This article examines the significance of “peasant seeds” and outlines the development of the movement.