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.
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 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
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.”
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.
In this briefing, we deal with the Pioneer/Pannar seed merger, outlining the evidence led by the ACB in opposing the merger, what is at stake for South Africa if the merger is approved and the extent to which the merger will deepen structural imbalances in the South African economy.
Comments on COMESA’s Draft Policy on Commercial Planting, Trade and Emergency Food Aid Involving Genetically Modified Organisms.
On the 8th and 9th May 2012 COMESA held a meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, to review a draft policy on the regulation and trade of GMOs for the region. While the Biotech Industry was very well represented at the meeting, civil society was completely left out of the process. This policy is being drafted behind closed doors to suit the trade interests of the major sponsor of the Policy – the United States government. Rather than ensure the most effective biosafety procedures for the Region, this policy is crafted to create an enabling environment for the free trade of GMOs with few checks and balances. The policy poses a threat to the national sovereignty of Member States, all but excludes public participation in the decision making process on GMOs and lowers the bar when it comes to risk assessments.
This document is endorsed by:
The African Centre for Biosafety and Trust for Community Outreach and Education, have the pleasure of sharing with you, our new study, which provides an overview of the structure of the seed system in South Africa, the types of seed in use and their pros and cons, the legislative and policy environment, and the role of the public sector in seed production and distribution in South Africa. It aims to identify the trends in the seed sector and consider possible points of intervention to advance the agenda of strengthening small-scale resource-poor farmers in control over and access to appropriate seed for seed sovereignty, which sits at the heart of food sovereignty.
As a stakeholder, the ACB was requested by the Competition Commission to make written comments on the proposed merger between Pioneer Hi Bred and Pannar, which we submitted to the Commission on the 21st of October, 2010.
In this submission, we raise the following further pertinent issues:
- The current prevailing seed systems in South Africa, how these have changed over time, and what the implications of these changes are;
- The breadth and importance of the breeding and research work carried out by Pannar seed in South Africa;
- Some alternative suggestions to ensure the fruits of Pannar’s research can be preserved for the public and national good.
We provide in several annexes, the seeds under the control of Pannar.