Friday, November 01, 2013

Criminalising Farmers In Favour Of Profits

Currently many activists in the US are fighting large corporations for the right to have food labelled accurately, informing the public if genetically modified ingredients are contained within it. Farmers in India have long been fighting against the push by big corporations to make the use of genetically modified seeds the norm. Below is information regarding the difficulties being suffered by African farmers in the push by multinationals to grant intellectual property rights to commercial concerns, undermining the farmers.
'Big Agriculture' - a bastion of capitalism - is being fought on all continents by real people, people representing majorities, against the stripping of their rights and for the preservation of producing food democratically. JS

A new legal framework to be adopted by the Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organisation will approve the intellectual property rights of Western commercial plant breeders and fundamentally undermine the rights of African farmers

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa 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.’

ARIPO is in the process of seeking the approval of its Member States to adopt the legal framework, possibly at the next ARIPO Administrative Council and Council of Ministers meeting due to take place 25–29 November 2013 in Kampala, Uganda.


The regional legal framework is part of the broader thrust in Africa to harmonise seed laws at the regional economic community level to ensure regionally seamless and expedited trade in commercially bred seed varieties for the benefit of multinational seed companies. It is also designed to facilitate the transformation of African agriculture from peasant-based to inherently inequitable, dated and unsustainable Green Revolution/industrialial agriculture. It is also a mechanism designed to coerce African countries into joining UPOV 1991, a restrictive and inflexible legal regime that grants extremely strong intellectual property rights to commercial breeders and undermines farmers’ rights.

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.


The ostensible rationale for the draft legal framework emanates from the ARIPO Secretariat – a committed champion of UPOV 1991–- that a regional PVP system is necessary to promote R&D in new plant varieties and that high performing plant varieties will increase agricultural productivity, improve rural income and ensure food security in Africa. These claims are, in turn, entirely based on those made by the UPOV Secretariat, foreign entities such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) and the seed industry (e.g. the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA), the French National Seed and Seedling Association (GNIS) and the International Community of Breeders of Asexually Reproduced Ornamental and Fruit Varieties (CIOPORA). All of these entities have vested interests in promoting UPOV 1991. The seed associations represent powerful companies that will make huge commercial gains from the implementation of UPOV 1991 in ARIPO member states.

More details here

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