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.
G8 “Hunger Summit” initiative rejected by African civil society – Corporate takeover of agriculture & land will increase hunger, groups claim
At the heart of the leading initiatives to ?modernise? African agriculture is a drive to open markets and create space for multinationals to secure profits. Green revolution technologies ? and the legal and institutional changes being introduced to support them ? will benefit a few at the expense of the majority.
As world leaders gather at the high profile ?Hunger Summit? in London this week to endorse the spate of on-going initiatives to ?modernise? African agriculture, 57 farmer and civil society organisations from 37 countries across the continent have slammed these efforts as ?a new wave of colonialism?. Harmonisation, free trade and the creation of institutions and infrastructure to facilitate multinational companies’ penetration into Africa are presented as the answer to food insecurity on the continent. These large multinational seed, fertiliser and agrochemical companies are setting the agenda for the G8?s “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa”, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the implementation of the African Union?s Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).
African farm analysts demand answers from UK over DfID funding Is the UK setting up a poverty trap for African farmers?
The Africa Centre for Biosafety (ACB), supported by Food & Water Europe and the Gaia Foundation, today wrote to UK Ministers for International Development, Business and Environment asking for evidence for the basis of UK overseas aid policy.*
ACB recently published a searing critique of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (known as AGRA, supported by agribusiness multinationals and the Gates Foundation). The study finds the scheme is ultimately not about developing lasting solutions to hunger, but imposing a cash economy on African agriculture that will inevitably result in farmers becoming dependent on the multinational corporations profiting from the hardship that will follow.
AGRA effectively seeks to institutionalise biopiracy by accessing publicly available genetic resources, patenting or imposing other intellectual property rights on the resulting seeds, and then using these industrial monoculture crops to channel African farmers into focusing on earning enough export cash to buy the privatised seed. The AGRA model uses free inputs to develop monopoly control over outputs and expects farmers to pay for seeds they previously shared and traded, and played a major part in developing over thousands of years.
AGRA?s model creates the foundation for the expansion of biotechnology and synthetic agricultural inputs,
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.”
(Dar es Salaam, Harare, Kampala, Johannesburg). The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) has proposed a draft regional harmonized policy and legal framework on Plant Variety Protection (PVP), based on the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) Convention of 1991. The draft legal framework, if adopted, will have significant adverse consequences for small-scale farmers that dominate the agricultural landscape of ARIPO member states,1 as well as for food security, agricultural biodiversity and national sovereignty in Africa.
African civil society organizations (CSO) have submitted a detailed critique to ARIPO on the 6 November 2012, expressing their grave concerns with regard to the fundamentally flawed process involved in developing the draft PVP policy and legal framework, as well as with the legal framework itself. According to Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety ?The legal framework will not only facilitate the theft of African germplasm and privatization of seed breeding. It will ensure the unhindered creation of a commercial seed market, where the types of seeds on offer are restricted to commercially protected varieties within a context where farmers? rights to freely use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed are seriously eroded.?
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.
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.