The scoping report looks at key policies, legislation and programmes in SA with an emphasis on seed laws and considers the implications for small- scale farmer involvement in this sector and outlines a few projects on community seed production, indigenous crops and black- owned private sector seed production efforts.
Open letter to UPOV and FAO on the new intellectual property and seed laws in Africa, Asia and Latin America
The African Centre for Biodiversity, the Network for a GE Free Latin America and JINUKUN – COPAGEN, on behalf of the organizers of a South – South dialogue on intellectual property (IP) and seed laws, want to bring to your attention the declaration that resulted from the Dialogue. This Dialogue was attended by several organizations and networks of farmers working on rural development, environment and agro-ecology issues from Latin America, Asia and Africa met in Durban – South Africa between 27 and 29 November 2015.
We, participants at the South-South Dialogue, are members of peasant and civil society organisations and concerned individuals from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe working on issues of food and seed sovereignty, peasants’ control of seed production and exchange, and biodiversity. We gathered in Durban, South Africa 27-29 November 2015 to share information and knowledge, and to come to a common understanding on seed and plant variety protection (PVP) policy and laws and strategies for resistance and alternatives in the global South.
We are working in our countries and regions to advance the ongoing global struggle for socially just and ecologically sustainable societies, in which farming households and communities have control and decision-making power over the production and distribution of food and seed.
Human societies and the seeds we use to produce the food that sustains us have grown symbiotically over millennia. Seeds emerged from nature and have been diversified, conserved, nurtured and enhanced through processes of human experimentation, discovery and innovation throughout this time. Seeds have been improved by means of traditional and cultural knowledge transmitted from generation to generation. Seeds are therefore the collective
The expansion of the commercial seed sector in sub-Saharan Africa: Major players, key issues and trends
Sub Saharan Africa’s seed systems are undergoing a profound transition, with the private sector leading the way. This report outlines some of the major trends and activities of the major players involved in this, from Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the broader donor community.
Which way forward for Zambia’s smallholder farmers: Green Revolution input subsidies or agro-ecology?
The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in partnership with the União Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC, National Peasants Union), and Kaleidoscopio has today released preliminary findings in a research project: ‘Agricultural investment activities in the Beira Corridor, Mozambique: Threats and opportunities for small-scale farmers.’ Joining Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi to the coast of Mozambique, the Beira Corridor plays a central role in the expansion of the Green Revolution project in Southern Africa.
The multi-donor Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor (BAGC) initiative has been established as Mozambique’s entry point for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The report explores small-scale farmers’ agro-ecological dynamics related to seed and soil fertility in Mozambique and the expansion of the Green Revolution project. The report considers the changing seed system in Mozambique, and the possible effects of regional seed agreements and laws on farmer-managed seed systems. The report also discusses private agro-dealers as key delivery mechanisms for Green Revolution technologies, especially improved seed, fertilizers and agrochemicals.
In Mozambique, most seed is still reproduced by farmers themselves, with some public sector and commercial activity. Mozambique’s plant variety protection (PVP) law prohibits farmers from reproducing and reusing protected seed varieties, even if these varieties are
Agricultural investment activities in the Beira Corridor, Mozambique: Threats and opportunities for small-scale farmers
Agricultural growth corridors are key tools for the expansion of the Green Revolution onto the African continent. In Southern Africa, the Beira Corridor – joining Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi to the coast of Mozambique – is one such corridor.
ACB has partnered with UNAC (the National Peasants’ Union) and Kaleidoscopio to produce a report that tracks the development of the Corridor, and links it to the broader Green Revolution thrust in Africa. The particular focus is on the multi-donor Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor (BAGC) initiative. The report also considers the changing seed system in Mozambique, and the possible effects of regional agreements and laws on farmer-managed seed systems. There is a section on agro-dealers as a key delivery mechanism for Green Revolution technologies, especially seed, fertilizer and agrochemicals, and reflections on the alternatives in farmer-based and public sector extension. Finally, the report considers activities around synthetic fertilizer production and distribution and the central role of the Beira Corridor in the Green Revolution strategy in Mozambique.
The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) welcomes the recent decision made by the Minister of Agriculture, Water Affairs and Fisheries and an Appeal Board rejecting the commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) potatoes in South Africa.
The ACB with the support of the South African public, vigorously campaigned over a number of years against the Agricultural Research Council (ARC’s) bid to bring GM potatoes, also known as “SpuntaG2,” to the South African market. The potatoes were genetically engineered to produce a toxin to kill the potato tuber moth. The ACB has always contended that the GM potato posed unacceptable risks to human and animal health, the environment and the farming community. GM Regulators in SA, the Executive Council: GMO Act, agreed and rejected ARC’s application in 2009, citing a long list of biosafety, health and socio-economic concerns. These were challenged by the ARC in an appeal, which they have now definitively lost.
Executive Director of ACB, Mariam Mayet said, “we have waited several long years for this decision and are extremely pleased that smallholder farmers will not be saddled with this unwanted and risky technology”. The research into the “SpuntaG2” potatoes was bankrolled by the United States Agency for International Development
The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has on 7th August 2015, lodged an appeal to Agriculture, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Senzeni Zokwana, against the general release approval of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) maize, MON87460 granted by the Executive Council (EC): GMO Act. Such approval means that Monsanto can sell the GM maize seed, MON87460, to farmers in South Africa for cultivation.
MON87460 is alleged to be ‘drought tolerant;’ a claim the ACB vehemently disputes.
Administrative justice, procedural fairness and sound science to the test
The appeal is a test for administrative justice and procedural fairness in regard to GM decision-making in South Africa. Administrative decision-making must be based on rigorous food safety, environmental and socio-economic assessments of the potential adverse effects of MON87460, taking into international biosafety best practice.
According to the ACB, the EC’s approval is typical of GM decision-making, which simply reiterates and summarises information provided by Monsanto, who has a clear vested interest in the approval. Such “rubber stamping” is unlawful. The EC is under a legal obligation to apply a risk averse and cautious approach, which takes into account uncertainties and the limits of current knowledge about the consequences of approving MON87460 for commercial
Statement issued by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)
On 06 July 2015, in Arusha, Tanzania, a Diplomatic Conference held under the auspices of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) adopted a harmonised regional legal framework for the protection of plant breeders’ rights—the Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (the ‘Arusha PVP Protocol’).
The Arusha PVP Protocol is a slightly revised version of a previous Draft ARIPO Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (the ‘ARIPO PVP Protocol’). The previous Draft has come under consistent and severe attack by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) because it is based on a Convention known as UPOV 1991—a restrictive and inflexible international legal precept, totally unsuitable for Africa. Crucially, the ARIPO PVP Protocol proposed extremely strong intellectual property rights to breeders while restricting the age-old practices of African farmers freely to save, use, share and sell seeds and/or propagating material. These practices are the backbone of agricultural systems in Sub-Saharan Africa; they have ensured the production and maintenance of a diverse pool of genetic resources by farmers themselves, and have safe-guarded food and nutrition for tens of millions of Africans