Seed Laws

GM and seed industry eye Africa’s lucrative cowpea seed markets: The political economy of cowpea in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi.

Cowpea seeds

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has today released a new report titled, GM and seed industry eye Africa’s lucrative cowpea seed markets: The political economy of cowpea in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi.  The report shows a strong interest by the seed industry in commercialising cowpea seed production and distribution in West Africa, where a very lucrative regional cowpea seed market is emerging. Cowpea, one of the most ancient crops known to humankind, with its centre of origin in Southern Africa, provides the earliest food for millions of Africans during the ‘hungry season’ before cereals mature.

The report argues that the GM cowpea push in Burkina Faso, nigeria and Ghana co-incides with this strong interest from multinational and local seed companies to produce foundation and certified seed in West Africa.

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RAILROADING AFRICAN GOVTS INTO ADOPTING ARIPO PVP PROTOCOL BASED ON UPOV 1991: AFSA APPEALS TO ARIPO MEMBER STATES FOR POSTPONEMENT OF DIPLOMATIC CONFERENCE AND FOR URGENT CONSULTATIONS WITH SMALL-HOLDER FARMERS

AFSA attended a Regional Workshop on the ARIPO PVP Protocol, 29-31 October 2014, in Harare Zimbabwe, where numerous technical and administrative flaws continue to characterise the process. In particular, member states were forced into accepting a recommendation, disguised as if crafted by them, mandating ARIPO to urgently organize and call for the Diplomatic Conference for the adoption of the Protocol. In reality, member states, instead, unanimously endorsed the need for further consultations to be held at national levels and independent expert review of the draft ARIPO PVP Protocol and that talk of a Diplomatic Conference to adopt the Protocol is hopelessly premature.

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ALLIANCE FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY IN AFRICA: MEDIA BRIEFING AFSA APPEALS TO ARIPO, AU AND UNECA FOR PROTECTION OF FARMERS’ RIGHTS & RIGHT TO FOOD

Addis Ababa

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), a Pan African platform comprising civil society networks and farmer organisations working towards food sovereignty in Africa, has today lodged an urgent appeal to the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to urgently revise the draft ARIPO Plant Variety Protection Protocol, recognise farmers? rights and facilitate the right to food. AFSA is requesting that such revision be based on a broader consultation process with farmer organisations and experts from outside of the plant breeders? rights sector.

African civil society organisations, many of them members of AFSA, made submissions to ARIPO on its draft Plant Variety Protection (PVP) law and policies in November 2012. AFSA has itself submitted comments on ARIPO?s Response to Civil Society: Draft Legal Framework for Plant Variety Protection, March 2014. In both submissions, several serious concerns were raised about the law, which later was titled ?the draft ARIPO Plant Variety Protection Protocol?, being based on UPOV 1991 (the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants), a restrictive and inflexible legal regime focused solely on promoting and protecting the rights of commercial breeders that develop

Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) submission to ARIPO, AU and UNECA for urgent intervention in draft ARIPO Plant Variety Protection Protocol, in order to protect farmers? rights and the right to food.

This submission contains several grounds upon which AFSA is seeking urgent interventions by ARIPO, the AU and the UNECA to urgently revise the draft ARIPO PVP Protocol to protect farmers rights and the right to food.

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AFSA Makes Small Gains for Farmers’ Rights in Draft SADC PVP Protocol

AFSA members participated at a SADC Regional Workshop that took place 13-14 March 2014, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The aim of the workshop was to review the draft SADC PVP Protocol. After marathon, highly contentious and difficult discussions, AFSA members were able to persuade member states to amend key provisions in the draft SADC PVP Protocol dealing with “disclosure of origin” and “farmers’ rights”. While some space was opened through the participation of AFSA members at the very tail end of the workshop, the objections to the draft SADC PVP Protocol being based on UPOV 1991still remain. Indeed, the road ahead for smallholders and their seed systems continues to look extremely bleak. A radical shift is required at the political level away from a singular system that favours only one kind of plant breeding (industrial) and corporate seed systems that facilitate commercial growing and regional trade in improved and protected seed only and in which smallholders’ role is defined as that of passive consumers or growers in certification schemes (that produce improved/protected seed) to a system that embraces a multitude of actors and encourages a diversity of farming systems and seed.

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PROTOCOL FOR PROTECTION OF NEW

AFSA STRONGLY CONDEMNS SLEIGHT OF HAND MOVES BY ARIPO TO JOIN UPOV 1991, BYPASS NATIONAL LAWS AND OUTLAW FARMERS RIGHTS

PRESS RELEASE FROM ALLIANCE FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY IN AFRICA

Addis Ababa, Accra 3 April 2014

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)1 strongly condemns the move by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) to join UPOV 1991, which will effectively outlaw the centuries-old African farmers? practice of freely using, exchanging and selling seeds/propagating material. These practices underpin 90% of the agricultural system within the ARIPO region.2

AFSA has learnt that the Secretary General of ARIPO, on 6 March 2014, requested the UPOV Council to consider the Draft ARIPO Protocol for the Protection of Plant Varieties (?Draft Protocol?) for its conformity with the UPOV 1991 Convention3. If at the UPOV meeting to be held in Geneva on 11 April 2014, the UPOV Council decides that the Draft Protocol is indeed in conformity with UPOV 1991, and that ARIPO member states that ratify the Draft Protocol can join UPOV 1991, the implications will be far reaching.

According to Duke Tagoe from Food Sovereignty Ghana, a grassroots movement aggressively and successfully opposing Ghana?s Plant Variety Protection Bill, ?this will mean that our government in Ghana, who has been struggling to pass our Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Bill because of local resistance

AFSA?S COMMENTS ON ARIPO?s RESPONSES TO CIVIL SOCIETY: DRAFT LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION

At the 2013 November meeting of the Administrative Council and Council of Ministers of ARIPO countries held in Kampala, Uganda, several documents on the proposed legal framework for Plant Variety Protection were distributed. Also circulated was a Matrix1 containing ARIPO?s responses to a detailed submission by civil society organizations (CSO) dated 6th November 20122. In this AFSA Comments, we respond to this Matrix, which is evasive, baseless and shows that ARIPO?s assertions that the views and comments of civil society have been taken into account is simply false.

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ARIPO’S PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION LAW BASED ON UPOV 1991 CRIMINALISES FARMERS’ RIGHTS AND UNDERMINES SEED SYSTEMS IN AFRICA

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa[1] is gravely concerned about a draft law developed under the auspices of the Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), dealing with a harmonised regional legal framework for the protection of plant breeders’ rights, titled “Draft Regional Policy and Legal Framework for Plant Variety Protection”. The ARIPO legal framework, if approved, will make it illegal for farmers to engage in their age-old practice of freely using, sharing and selling seeds/propagating material; a practice that underpins 90% of the smallholder agriculture systems in sub-Saharan Africa.

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AFSA Statement Condemning COMESA Approval of Seed Regulations

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa[1] strongly condemns the approval during September 2013, by the Council of Ministers of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) of the draft COMESA Seed Trade Harmonization Regulations, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as the ?Seed Regulations?).

The COMESA Seed Regulations will greatly facilitate agricultural transformation in the COMESA member states towards industrialization of farming systems based on the logic of the highly controversial, failed and hopelessly doomed Green Revolution model of agriculture. The COMESA Regulations are geared towards creating an enabling environment for massively increased private sector participation in seed trade in the COMESA region as it promotes only one type of seed breeding, namely industrial seed breeding involving the use of advanced breeding technologies.

We demand that the COMESA Seed regulations be scrapped in their entirety. We call upon donors to desist from supporting the implementation of these regulations, which undermine our national sovereignty and policy space. We call for an open, transparent process, involving small farmers especially, to discuss appropriate seed laws for Africa, where the obligation of protecting biodiversity, farmers? rights and overall ecological productivity is entrenched as a primary objective.

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa

Comments by the African Centre for Biosafety on SA?s Plant Improvement Bill

According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (UNFAO), over the course of the 20th century, 75% of the world?s plant genetic diversity was lost, as local varieties and land races have been replaced with genetically uniform seed. A similar process in animal husbandry has put 53% of all livestock breeds at risk of extinction. At the turn of the 21st century, 12 plant and five animal species generated three quarters of the world?s food. This is no accident, but the result of a very particular system of food production that demands uniformity and yield, over diversity and nutrition and where vast monocultures can be grown, harvested, processed and then ?freely? traded over thousands of miles. It is a system that, by some estimates, contributes up to 57% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is also a system that, particularly in the USA and European Union, is propped up by a vast subsidy system.

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