Seed Laws

ACB’s comments on the Plant Breeders Rights Bill

We are grateful to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for allowing us the opporunity to attend the stakeholder workshop on the 22nd of May 2013 and for inviting us to submit our comments on the Plant Breeders? Rights Bill. We are also pleased to note that the DAFF has indeed taken on board several comments and contributions made by the ACB in previous submissions and consultations on the previous version of the Plant Breeders? Rights Bill.

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NEW SEED LEGISLATION SPELLS DISASTER FOR SMALL FARMERS IN AFRICA

Civil society organisations from the SADC region, and around the world have condemned the SADC draft Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (Plant Breeders? Rights) as spelling disaster for small farmers and food security in the region. These groups, representing millions of farmers in Africa and around the world have submitted their concerns to the SADC Secretariat. They are calling for the rejection of the Protocol and urgent consultations with farmers, farmer movements and civil society before it?s too late.

According to the groups, the Protocol is inflexible, restrictive and imposes a ?one-size-fits-all? plant variety protection (PVP) system on all SADC countries irrespective of the nature of agricultural systems, social and economic development. It is modeled after the 1991 International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991), an instrument which was developed by industrialized countries to address their own needs. UPOV 1991 grants extremely strong intellectual property right protection to plant breeders, and disallows farmers from continuing their customary practices of freely using, exchanging and selling farm-saved seeds.

According to Moses Shaha, regional chairman for the East and Southern African small-scale Farmers? Forum (ESAFF): ?The proposed legislation gives big-business breeders significant rights,

Civil Society Statement on COMESA Seed Trade Laws

This submission was made by civil society groups at a COMESA meeting in Lusaka during March 2013, in which serious concerns were raised about the COMESA seed trade laws as negatively impacting on small farmers in the COMESA region.

Statement made by:
Zambia Climate Change Network (ZCCN); East and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) ? Zambia; Participatory Ecological Land-Use (PELUM) Association; Alliance for Agro-Ecology and Biological Diversity Conservation; Kasisi Agriculture Training Centre (KATC); Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT); Green Living Movement (GLM); African Centre for Biosafety (ACB)

 

 

The Regulations allow for the expedited registration of seeds to enable the creation of a seed free trade zone within the COMESA region. ?Seed trade? is not defined in the regulations as being restricted to only the commercial seed sector. In this regard, there are serious concerns that the Regulations do not provide any safeguards that small farmers will be allowed to freely use, save, sell, barter and exchange traditional varieties of seed.? Lack of these safeguards will open the door for the criminalising of the customary practises of small farmers to exchange, sell and

Civil Society submission on SADC PVP Protocol

This document represents the submission by more than 80 civil society organisations from the SADC region, other parts of Africa and around the world to the SADC Secretariat. These groups representing millions of farmers have condemned the SADC daft Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants as spelling disaster for small farmers and food security in the region. They are calling for the rejection of the Protocol and urgent consultations with farmers, farmer movements and civil society before any further work is undertaken.

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Harmonisation of Africa?s seed laws: death knell for African seed systems

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has released its new report titled, ?Harmonisation of Africa?s seed laws: a recipe for disaster- Players, motives and dynamics. The report shows how African governments are being co-opted into harmonising seed laws relating to border control measures, phytosanitary control, variety release systems, certification standards and intellectual property rights, to the detriment of African small-holder farmers and their seed systems.

According to Mariam Mayet of the ACB, ?The effect of these efforts, which are being pushed through African regional trading blocs such as COMESA and SADC[1] include:

  • facilitating the unlawful appropriation and privatization of African germplasm;
  • providing extremely strong intellectual property protection for commercial seed breeders and severely restricting the rights of farmers to freely use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds;
  • facilitating the creation of regional seed markets where the only types of seed on offer to small scale farmers are commercially protected varieties; and
  • threatening farmer- managed seed systems and markets.?

The report shows that harmonized intellectual property rights (plant variety protection-?PVP?) over seeds are all based on the 1991 Act of the International Union of the Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV 1991). UPOV 1991 was developed by industrialized countries more than

Harmonisation of Africa?s seeds laws: a recipe for disaster

The core of the paper is focused on the pressures being exerted on African governments to adopt the 1991 Act of the International Union for the Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV), particularly through regional harmonisation of plant variety protection (PVP) policies and laws. We also discuss the adverse impacts PVP laws will have on the exercise of farmers? rights in Africa, and concomitantly, on agricultural biodiversity, food security, livelihoods, knowledge systems and culture.

Seeds are the very basis of human society and have been for all of human history. Until very recently, farming and seed breeding were undertaken by farmers on their own land, season after season. However, we are now witnessing the separation of these two interdependent activities, with seed breeding increasingly being privatised and farmers becoming increasingly dependent on seed varieties made available to them at the discretion of seed companies. This process of separation began in Europe and North America at the turn of the nineteenth century, and continues today in developing countries and developed countries alike.

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Submission by ACB and African CSOs to ARIPO on its draft PVP law and policies, November 2012

During October/November 2012, a number of African groups from civil society in Africa supported a submission to ARIPO on its draft policy and legal framework for PVP. In such submission, the groups pointed out that draft legal framework was not written with the interests of sub-Saharan African states in mind, particularly ARIPO member states. This is because there is no attempt to develop a sui generis system suitable to the African context. It instead blindly copies and expands on UPOV 1991.

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