Doing food security in practice: seeds, seed banking and preparations for the future

Zanetti, Oliver (2014). Doing food security in practice: seeds, seed banking and preparations for the future. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d5b2

Abstract

This thesis is about the banking of the seeds of food plants. It considers the practices and politics of that banking in order to understand its contribution to future food security scenarios. The thesis expands upon existing literature to provide new analytical and empirical insights into the preservation of biological materials. It does so by examining how practices undertaken in seed bank settings function to make seeds into materials of use to food security practitioners; an outcome which is achieved by the incorporation of banked seed into the framework of plant genetic resources. The thesis also contributes to knowledge on food security, by examining the function of those plant genetic resources within the food security milieu. First, the temporalities engendered by seed banking are analysed. Here, it is argued that seed banking assists in enhancing food security by acting as a mechanism which folds the plant genetic resource materials of the past and future together through work undertaken in the present. Second, the material politics of plant genetic resource preservation in a food security setting are explored, and a case is made for a framework by which seed may be banked "well"; a framework which is hinged on seed materiality. Overall, the thesis makes two key claims. First, that food security should not be regarded as a state that can be reached, but rather as an ongoing process of strengthening the food system as a whole. Second, that seeds must be regarded as materials with agency in seed banking practice, agency which impacts upon the practice of seed banking itself and on the wider political setting of that practice.

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