A few words from Carmen Lozano, from the Kichwa people of Saraguro, Ecuador
“We are people of maize, children of maize, and we live from maize. Maize is the source of life and the fundamental basis of our communities. It is our medicine and food. Our seeds belong to our ancestors. Our seeds are more resistant, resilient, healthy, and energetic.
Maize is the sustenance of life. We use maize for everything. When we have “mingas,” (work parties/gatherings in solidarity to do communal work) we eat corn. We eat corn for lunch, dinner, for the holidays, for Christmas, for Easter. Without maize a party is incomplete. If someone dies, maize is the main meal. We make tamales, coladas (maize beverage) with many diferent maize varieties. We make humitas, tamales, tortillas, “choclo” and “mote.” We make chicha, a very sacred drink that gives us lots of energy and strength. All the colors of corn are for diferent things. If we lose maize, that will be the end of our people. We do everything with maize. We need to have maize.
In the cities people live of of consumerism, but our foods are a part of our identity. The new seeds such as hybrids and genetically engineered seeds that governments of the world are pushing with chemicals is ushering in a loss of our identity, of production, of food sovereignty, and is giving us poor nutrition. The new seeds are contaminating our seeds. -Along with the new seeds and foods, an entire new class of illnesses are emerging, which are contaminating our communities, lands, and waters-. You can’t even chew the corn stalk of hybrid corn. We have the right to chew our corn stalks and eat our “choclos” (corn on the cob).
We have the right to food, to food sovereignty, to buen vivir, and to good health. We guarantee all of this with our seeds. Our seeds and our traditional knowledge are ours and we reject that the government intervene in these matters.
Our grandparents lived more than 100 years and nowadays people hardly reach 60 years of age. As ancestral peoples with our own autonomy, we reject the idea that anyone, that any government or corporation, can strip us of our right to life.
We must be included at the decision-making table and we must be the ones who write the regulations and laws that afect our seeds. We have to participate fully, and any law that can afect our seeds must guarantee our survival and the decisions of our communities.
We have the autonomy as Indigenous peoples and we are the ones who define how we maintain our native seeds and our models of cultivation.
Our seeds are part of the patrimony of humanity, and do not have an owner. Maize is collective and through its cultivation we practice solidarity, reciprocity, coexistence, and harmony. Maize is our life and if maize is lost, we lose life.”