Tag Archive: Tanzania

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

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,

Open Letter to African Governments and AGRA (The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa)

The undersigned 28 civil society organizations support and represent the interests of smallholder farmers and livestock keepers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and are concerned with the conservation of agricultural biodiversity for livelihood security and food sovereignty.

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View the full statement here.

Statement on AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa)

At a farmers rights meeting held in Uganda September 2012 a statement was drawn up and signed by many concerned parties.

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Download the press release here.
Signatures:

1. ActionAid, Tanzania
2. ActionAid, Uganda
3. Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment, Uganda
4. African Biodiversity Network – representing 36 organisations in Africa
5. African Centre for Biosafety, South Africa
6. Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development, Uganda
7. Community Technology Development Trust, Zimbabwe
8. Eastern amp; Southern Africa Farmer’s Forum, Tanzania
9. Eastern amp; Southern Africa Farmer’s Forum, Uganda
10. Eastern amp; Southern Africa Farmer’s Forum, Zambia
11. Envirocare, Tanzania
12. Ethio-Organic Seed Action, Ethiopia
13. Food Rights Alliance, Uganda
14. Inades Formation, Kenya
15. Kenya Biodiversity Coalition – representing 67 civil society groups
16. National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda
17. Participatory Ecological Land Use Management – representing 230 civil society
groups including
18. PELUM Kenya,
19. PELUM Rwanda,
20. PELUM Tanzania and
21. PELUM Uganda.
22. Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute, Uganda
23. Surplus People Project, South Africa
24. Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity, Tanzania – representing 15 organisations
25. The Pincer Group International Ltd, Uganda
26. Third World Network
27.

Objections to Monsanto’s application for spate of field trials with GM drought tolerant maize, September 2012

Field trials with MON 87460 are currently underway in South Africa at Hopetown, Orania, Pretoria, Lutzville and Delareyville.

These field trials form part of a larger initiative under the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project, a public-private partnership between African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF), Monsanto, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and the South African Agricultural Research Council (ARC). A combination of conventional breeding, marker-assisted breeding and transgenics are being used to develop maize with improved drought stress tolerance. WEMA also has partnerships with the national agricultural agencies of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. According to the permit applications, “The goal of WEMA is to provide smallholder farmers in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa with access to water efficient transgenic maize hybrids, royalty free, enabling them to produce more reliable harvests”.

CONTENTS:

Introduction
Rational for this application
Status of approval of Monsanto‘s drought-tolerant maize in the USA
Our main concerns
The nature of drought resistance
Other approaches to drought
The mon87460 transgenic cassette
Lack of monitoring
Socio-economic impacts
Lack of biosafety capacity in South Africa
Conclusion
References

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ACB’s objection to Monsanto’s application for trial release of drought tolerant GM maize MON 87460

Monsanto has been conducting field trials of drought tolerant maize in South Africa since 2007, and has recently applied to have these trials extended. Monsanto has presented the trials as forming part of the much larger Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Initiative, of which the African Centre for Biosafety has already criticised in a previous publication. Having viewed, the albeit exremely limited ‘non-confidential-business-information’ version, of Monsanto’s appeal document, the ACB feels it pertinent to bring several glaring concerns of ours to the public attention.

Drought tolerance in plants is an incredibly complex characteristic, involving up to 60 seperate genes (remember the majority of commercially grown GM crops contain just 1 or 2 artificially inserted genes). Monsanto even admits in its application that under conditions of extreme drought, the apocalyptic visions of which the biotech industry frequently uses to justify its activities, MON 87460’s yield ‘can be reduced to zero’. Bearing this in mind, and taking into consideration the very real risks we have identified from Monsantos application, including horizontal gene transfer, the use of anti-biotic resistance marker genes and the danger of cross pollination with conventional vareties, we fail to see how the continuation of these trials can be

Africa’s Green Revolution Drought Tolerant Maize Scam

Prediction of exacerbated drought in Africa due to climate change is apparently the driving force behind the establishment of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) initiative, another prong of the so-called ?New Green Revolution for Africa?. WEMA seeks to develop drought tolerant maize varieties through a program which is being presented as a panacea for solving issues of hunger on the continent using marker assisted breeding and genetic engineering. That this is being done under the guise of philanthropy sidesteps questions about the real causes of hunger, disregards issues of imbalanced global distribution of food and underplays the financial benefits to be derived by the various proponents of the scheme. The possible risks to small-scale farmers, whom WEMA targets, include loss of biodiversity through gene flow, a dependence on expensive inputs into farming, possible exposure to intellectual and property rights claims and impacts on their food security. The most effective ways of supporting small-scale farmers is through agro-ecological approaches to farming. These focus on small-scale sustainable agriculture; locally adapted seed and ecological farming that better addresses the complexities of climate change, hunger, poverty and productive demands on agriculture in the developing world.

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Africa’s Granary Plundered Privatisation of Tanzanian Sorghum Protected by the Seed Treaty

By Edward Hammond December 2009.

A gene recently isolated from a Tanzanian farmers’ variety of sorghum may yield tremendous pro?ts for multinational companies and government researchers in the United States and Brazil. Called SbMATE, it is not only useful in sorghum; but also may be used in other crops, including genetically engineered (GE) maize, wheat, and rice as well as GE tree plantations.
Government researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and the Texas A&M University (US) have patented the gene in the US. They have also ?led an international patent application in which they state that they will seek patents on the Tanzanian gene across the world, including in Africa.
The commercial potential of the gene is strong. Although it was only recently identi?ed, the giant multinational Dow Chemical is already negotiating with the US government to license it. Japan’s second largest paper products company has also expressed interest in buying access to it.

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