ECVC Pushes for a United Front in Defense of Seeds

ECVC Pushes for a United Front in Defense of Seeds

ECVC pushes for a European united front to prohibit patents on living organisms and to promote farmers’ rights to seeds and peasant resilient seed systems.

Originally published on the website of ECVC.

The European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) Seed Group organized a meeting on April 22th to 24th at the Farm in Dottenfelder Hof in the periphery of Frankfort (Germany), in order to intensify information exchanges on the breeding, exchange and use of seeds. During this meeting, different proposals and concrete practices have been discussed to strengthen peasants’ rights regarding seeds and their protection against GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism).

Among the issues considered, we can mention:

  • The various proficient practices on seeds carried out by peasants around Europe and the world that allow peasant organisations to build fair and resilient seed systems.
  • The legislation on GMOs derived from new genetic modification techniques- the so-called New Breeding Techniques- which we believe must be included in the directives on GMOs and subject to GMO risk assessment and labeling.
  • European directives and national legislation on seed trade and exchange between farmers. It is necessary to improve European and national trade regulation and legislation that could affect peasants’ seeds and obtain positive laws protecting farmers’ rights to use, save, exchange and sell their seeds.
  • The need for a united front to curb the Industry offensive seeking to convert the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (TIRFAA) into a biopiracy tool.

This Treaty recognizes the right of farmers to conserve, use, exchange and sell their seeds. However, it does not have a robust system for disciplining states that ignore it, hence abandonning the seeds conserved by its peasants and their native genes to he patent system. For this reason ECVC demands that the Treaty trully defend peasants’ rights, that it ensure peasants have access to the entire diversity of peasants seeds engendered in their fields and that they be protected against biopiracy.

The preservation, renewal and sustainable use of plant genetic resources is based primarily on farmers’ rights, so that they can use, replant, exchange and sell their plants Any restriction to those rights are contrary to the treaty’s objectives.

The Treaty must prohibit any intellectual property right or any form of limitation that prevents an easy access to research, conservation, food and agriculture training, as well as to agricultural crops, to the multilateral System of plant genetic resources or to a part of natives genes or genetic component of this resources.

  • Seed patents: fight to change the Directive on the patenting of living organisms, since it is totally unacceptable and does not offer any sort of interpretation that allows peasants to defend their rights in the reopened debate on seeds and livestock patents in Europe. It is necessary to prohibit the patentability of “plants and animals products coming essentially from biological process” as well as on their native traits and genetic information.
  • Keep up our work concerning the UN Peasants’ Right Declaration in order to defend ECVC’s position on peasants’ rights regarding seeds. It is necessary to also include a reference on a State’s right to refuse seeds patents and GMOs, along with the obligation States have to promote and support local peasant seed banks managed by farmers, that also serve to conserve and develop seeds.