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Brussels, 17th of September 2018 -Following many years of mobilization, in the context of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), the peasants who conserve and develop the seed diversity have finally obtained the summoning of an expert group in charge of making proposals for the enforcement of their rights. This expert group held their first meeting from the 11th to the 14th of September 2018 at the FAO in Rome.
The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC)(1), to which La Vía Campesina is member, organised three continental consultations to prepare for the meeting, bringing together peasants from Asia, Africa, Latin America. Moreover, a strong delegation was present in Rome during these days to follow the work of the expert group. Only three experts representing farmers’ organizations, including one member of La Via Campesina (Alimata Traoré, member of the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations of Mali) were authorized to participate in this working group.
The peasants had placed great hopes on this meeting. They were shocked to see that various countries choose to be represented by “experts” from the seed industry, who consequently outnumbered the peasants at the meeting. This press release seeks to denounce the behavior of the seed industry, which has monopolized the debates to talk about breeders’ rights (2) and not farmers’ rights, with the sole aim of preventing this working group from achieving a positive result for farmers. In addition, the lack of translation of the documents distributed in a language that all the farmer experts could understand prevented two of the three representatives from participating fully in the discussions.
We congratulate the other members of the expert group who have patiently and consistently put the issue of farmers’ rights on the agenda and obtained a second meeting to enable them to formulate proposals. We hope that they will consist in ensuring that farmers’ rights are applied and not those of the seed industry.
Guy Kastler – ECVC Seed Group: +33 603 94 5721 (FR)
Antonio Onorati –ECVC Coordinating Committee: + 39 3408 21 9456 (FR, EN, ES, IT)
(1) The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty is a platform of small-scale food producers, rural workers organizations, grass root/community based social movements to advance the Food Sovereignty agenda at the regional and global level. For further information: http://www.foodsovereignty.org/about-us/
(2) In the field of seeds, the breeder produces a cultivate accidentally or deliberately (a plant that is sufficiently “stable”, homogeneous and distinct in its specie of other variants for it to be considered a new variety). The intellectual property rights of plant breeders and the accompanying laws over seeds, limit or prohibit the right of peasants to use, exchange and sell their own seeds.