The seed industry and North American countries obstruct progress in advancing farmers’ rights over seeds
The second meeting of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Farmers’ Rights finished on 24 May 2019 at the FAO HQ in Rome without completing its mandate. The Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) put the expert group in place in 2017, with the task to provide guidance for advancing the realization of peasants’ and Indigenous Peoples’ rights over seeds. These rights are recognized and guaranteed by the ITPGRFA, but implementation by States is lacking. The decision to put in place the expert group came after years of pressure by peasants’ and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations of the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC), which gained support from some countries.
During last week’s meeting, the group agreed on a methodology for collecting and making available contributions of states and other actors regarding measures implementing farmers’ rights around the world in an inventory. However, delaying tactics by the representatives of the seed industry and experts from North America, as well as a group composition, which did not give adequate space to peasants’ and indigenous peoples’ organizations, impeded to develop recommendations to states about how to realize farmers’ rights.
“Peasants in West Africa and around the world are maintaining and constantly developing biodiversity, through their seed systems. What they need is legal recognition and protection of these peasant seed systems and our traditional knowledge. Without adequate laws, farmers’ rights are not effective. However, we observe that some members of the expert group do not want to advance, and are pushing for the expansion of breeders’ intellectual property rights,” says Alimata Traoré, a peasant woman from Mali and the representative of the IPC in the expert group.
During its next session in November 2019, the Governing
Body of the ITPGRFA will decide whether to renew the mandate of the expert
group on farmers’ rights. “We hope
that this important process will continue, ensuring adequate participation of
peasants’ and indigenous peoples’ organizations. The composition of the expert
group and its terms of reference need to be geared towards real progress towards the realization of farmers’ rights
over seeds,” says Antonio González from Guatemala, one of the coordinators
of the IPC working group on biodiversity.
The IPC delegation thanks the co-Chairs of the expert group, the Treaty secretariat, and all those experts who made constructive contributions. The IPC will continue to struggle for the full realization of peasants’ and Indigenous peoples’ rights over seeds.
The press release is signed by the IPC organizations members that participated at the Second Meeting of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Farmers’ Rights of the ITPGRFA:
- Antonio Gonzalez – Movimento Agroecologico de America Latina y el Caribe (MAELA)
- Marciano Da Silva – Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores (MPA)
- Guy Kastler – Confédération Paysannne
- Alimata Traoré – Convergence des Femmes Rurales pour la Souveraineté Alimentaire (COFERSA)
- Anisah Madden – Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA)
- Philip Seufert – FIAN International (Support NGO)
- Stefano Mori – Centro Internazionale Crocevia (support NGO)