Message to the International Treaty!

Sep 15, 2015 | News

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• Mauro Conti, IPC ( International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty ): ipc-

• Émilie Lapprand, French Farmers’ seeds network ( Réseau Semences Paysannes) :


Meeting in Rome 5-9 October 2015

We want to tell you that you are in the process of destroying the treaty. It is organising the theft of our seeds and our knowledge. We can no longer continue to give them to researchers and other prospectors that come and collect them in our fields, to then put them in the Treaty’s gene banks. As long as you do not ban all bio-pirated patents, as long as farmers do not have a right to keep, use, exchange and sell seeds from their own harvests, then we will not collaborate with research and gene banks that serve the multinational seed companies.

The grains kept in genetic resource banks run by the multilateral system of the Treaty on Plants (IT PGRFA) belong to us: they are our inheritance from many centuries of farmers selection, and they have been collected in our fields.

However we are often refused access to seeds of peasant variety because we are not researchers. Sometimes we obtain some grains on the condition that we do not use them for agricultural production: they can only be used for research purposes. We have stated that their conservation in cold chambers is not appropriate and that they need several years of new selection before the harvests can be donated in the current growing conditions. However those of us who undertake the collection and safeguarding of genetic resources are forbidden to exchange or sell them to other farmers, it is usually restrained by seed laws and regulations in the majority of the countries which take part in the treaty.

The treaty promised equitable sharing of the profit created by the industry using our seeds for their own selections. After 10 years we have not seen this, rather a shift in the opposite direction. Farmers have given seeds to industry; industry never paid for them, and the little money that governments donated has not been given to peasant organisations, but has consolidated international industry’s research programmes. We gave our seeds free of charge to the seed banks, and we accept that industry uses the useful varieties. But when we use these varieties, laws in the majority of signatory countries, require us to pay royalties, or forbid us to use the seeds that have come from our own harvests, asserting that they are now property of the industry. 

We inherited our seeds from our parents, we have looked after them carefully, selected and conserved them for future generations. We have given them to the treaty along with our knowledge, as we have always been proud to share the results of our work. We thought that we were protected against their being appropriated by industry property laws, such as plant breeders’ laws and patents. But now you say that you are going to launch the Divseek programme, to scan the genetic sequences of the resources in the gene bank so as to publish them in electronic databases. This programme was not created for us, we do not grow genetic sequences, or megabytes, and we do not need this information. But industry created the search engines and software to process all of the ‘genetic information’ in their database, for it to be patented and associated with some favourable characteristic, useful for agriculture, or the industrial processing of harvests. These patents on the ‘functional units of heredity’ are already legal in many countries and they will prevent us from keeping the opportunity to grow our seeds, the very seeds that we gave free of charge to the treaty seed banks.

We had a period of dialogue with the treaty. But despite the governing body’s decision in Bali in 2011 and in Oman in 2013, spaces for dialogue closed up, preventing us from participating to working groups or expert consultations in an efficient and formalized manner that will respect our organisational autonomy. Peasants organisations that are working in their fields to implement articles 5 and 6 of the Treaty on in situ conservation and the sustainable use of seeds and those that fight for the implementation of article 9 on the rights of farmers are always considered as ‘observers’, with the same statute as academics or journalists, while there are the main actors and on the front line of managing the very genetic plant resources that the Treaty defends! Yet Industry is courted and imposes its own solutions.

As long as the Treaty is not reformed to fully apply articles 5,6 and 9, we will continue to create our own multilateral exchange system between peasants. We are calling on governments to support our movement, basis of food sovereignty.

Signatories – September 2015

1) Farmers and gardeners organizations

•   African Centre for Biodiversity, Soutn Africa and Tanzania

•   AJAC LUKAAL, l’Association des Jeunes Agriculteurs de Casamance “Plantons”, Sénagal

•   ANMI, Asamblea Nacional de Mapuches de Izquierda, Chili

•   ANAMURI, Asociación Nacional l de Mujeres Rurales e Indígenas, Chili

•   BEDE ( Biodiversité : Echanges et Diffusion d’Expériences ), France

•   Bio Burkina Faso, Burkina Faso.

•   Campaña Semillas de Identidad, Colombia.

•   COASP, Comité ouest africain des Semences Paysannes et l’ensemble de ses membres, Western Africa

•   CONAPROCH, Confederación Nacional de Pequeños Productores, Chili

•   COPACO-PRP, Confédération Paysanne du Congo, Democratic Républic of Congo

•   ECVC, European Coordination Via Campesina

•   Fahamu Africa et le mouvement des femmes “ Nous sommes la solution”, Western Africa

•   Ferme école Agroécologique Benkadibugu, Mali

•   FOOL AVOINE, pour une biodiversité sans OGM ni brevet, France

•   Landworkers’ Alliance , United-Kingdom

•   MAELA, Mouvement agroécologique de l’Amérique latine et les Caraïbes

•   MABD, Mouvement de l’Agriculture Biodynamique, France

•   MPA, Movimento dos pequenos agricultores, Brasil

•   Ranquil, Confederación Nacional Campesina y de Pueblos originarios, Chili

•   Red de Semillas Campesinas, Argentina

•   Redes de semillas campesinas (RSC), Columbia

•   Red de Semillas Libres, Colombia

•   Red de Semillas “Resembrando e Intercambiando”, Spain

•   RESACIFROAT, Réseau d’Appui à la Citoyenneté des Femmes Rurales d’Afrique de l’Ouest et du Tchad, Western Africa

•   Réseau Semences Paysannes (RSP), France

•   Rete Semi Rurali, Italy

•   Union Paysanne, Canada.

2) Supports

•   Alkhalachofa, grupo de consumo responsable, Alcala de Henares, Spain

•   Australian Food Sovereignty, Australia

•   Burkinature, Burkina Faso

•   Chile Sustentable, Chile

•   Doman chalosse vivante, France

•   FIAN, Colombia

•   Foro Ambiental Santiagueño, Argentina

•   Laura Gutiérrez Escobar, Red de Semillas Libres de Colombia et FIAN, Colombia

•   Myriam del Carmen Salazar Villarreal Doctora en Agroecología, Colombia

•   Terra Nuova ONLUS, Italy

  Vía Orgánica, Mexicowritethis messagewhich is currently alreadygathering more than30organizationsfrom Africa, America, Australia or Europe.

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