Africa's Ancient Plant Diversity And Seed Independence Still Under Threat From Proposed New Laws

from the with-a-little-help-from-their-friends dept

Back in May 2013, we wrote about worrying attempts to create a harmonized system for controlling the sale of seeds in Africa that would increase the power of large suppliers such as Monsanto, at the expense of small farmers. A long and interesting article in Intellectual Property Watch indicates that those efforts are intensifying:

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), with the help of the United States and an international plant variety organisation, is working to grow regional support for a controversial draft law. The draft protocol would boost protection for new plant varieties, despite concerns of local civil society that it would not be in the best interest of ARIPO members’ food security due to its potential impact on small farmers. ARIPO held a regional workshop on the issue in recent weeks in part to build support for a treaty negotiation to lock in these protections.

There appears to have been an attempt to censor criticism at that workshop:

The event restricted the attendance of civil society, according to the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA). At the event, the group confirmed its fears about the impact of the adoption of the protocol on small farmers and food security. ARIPO, meanwhile, said it had not heard particular worries from farmers over time.

On its website, the AFSA explains its fears:

These national laws will enable the entry of foreign breeders and threaten the rights of small-scale farmers.

It also outlines plans to counter this move:

AFSA’s goal over the next three years in this area will be: to build the capacity of AFSA members to influence regional and national seed legislation and policies towards protection of farmers? rights in seed sovereignty. This will happen through and with the seed network that already exists. AFSA will help grow this into a continent-wide platform over the next three years.

That’s a laudable goal, but the worry has to be that many new plant variety protection laws will have been passed by then — doubtless with a little more help from the US on behalf of its Big Ag companies.

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Comments on “Africa's Ancient Plant Diversity And Seed Independence Still Under Threat From Proposed New Laws”

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33 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I question your use of the term “progressive”.

In today’s highly polarized political environment, use of such terms typically implies bias. In this case it would be an incorrect usage because most corporate policies and certainly that of monsanto, are far from what is commonly referred to as progressive.

BernardoVerda says:

Re: Re: Re:

No…. Monsanto talks to third world governments

And then the government decrees that the peasants shall use Monsanto’s wonderful new modern (and expensive) “technology” (GMO seeds that are “more productive” and resistant to Monsanto herbicides and insecticides) instead of the diverse range of locally adapted local varieties that are resistant to drought or flooding or more productive in local soils or other small scale local conditions).

And then the government sends inspectors around to make sure the farmers are complying. So the farmers grow the expensive government mandated GMOs in the fields by the roads, which often do poorly because the conditions have been too wet/dry/hot/cool/whatever, and survive only because they’ve been secretly (and illegally) growing more reliable, better-adapted, wider variety of “old fashioned”, traditional seed stocks away from where the inspectors are likely to go.

Seriously — that’s how it actually goes.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t understand why these laws are protecting the potentially unstable GMO organisms, instead of protecting the natural organisms that have been proven safe and stable through billions of years of evolution.

This makes absolutely no sense, unless viewed through the lens of a patent maximalist. A patent maximalist sees GMO’s as self replicating patents.

Crossed Crocodiles (profile) says:

ARIPO careful not to listen to farmers

@1 funny – “ARIPO assure the reporter that ‘They hadn’t listened to a single complaint or concern regarding the proposed change to the law.'”
ARIPO has been scrupulous in excluding farmers voices from their deliberations, very carefully not listening to farmers. They only listen to Big Ag and friends (Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dupont, Cargill, G8NA, USAID, etc.)

@25 – Monsanto and friends want to deal with large plantations of pesticide plant monocultures. These require seizing land, kicking hundreds and thousands of farmers off their land and forcing them into city slums.

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