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PROPOSED MESSAGE FROM THE SEMENCES PAYSANNES (Farmers’ seeds) NETWORKS TO MEMBER GOVERNMENTS OF THE GOVERNING BODY
OF THE INTERNATIONAL TREATY ON PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES (IT PGRFA)
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 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.
1) Farmers and gardeners organizations
• Vía Orgánica, Mexicowritethis messagewhich is currently alreadygathering more than30organizationsfrom Africa, America, Australia or Europe.
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