Statement from the European co-ordination of La Via Campesina (ECVC) on the Plant Reproductive Materials Law
The European Commission adopted a proposal on Seed Regulations on the 6 May. This proposal is now in the hands of the European Parliament and the Council.
The European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) denounces this incredible gift to patents and property rights of the agribusiness industry. This proposal represents a violent assault on farmers’ and gardeners’ rights. Bureaucratic control is being reinforced, and the only outcome will be to definitively kill biodiversity. This result is therefore the opposite of the reasons put forward by the Commission to reform the existing legislation, namely a need for administrative simplification and protection of biodiversity.
“In this proposal, the European Commission leaves the door wide open to unrestricted commercialization of patented plants. The latter will obviously spread and pollute all fields, without distinction. The law is made so that it is the farmer who has been polluted which will have to pay a fine to the industry, as if he had stolen the seeds. While it is the latter who should bear the burden of farmers’ fields decontamination… This is even more serious, as most of those patented plants are hidden GMOs.”, said Andrea Ferrante, member of the Coordinating Committee of the European Coordination Via Campesina.
To further facilitate this process of appropriation of living organisms by the industry , the list of all producers who re-sow part of their harvest (the “farm-saved seeds”), collected on the pretext of sanitary controls, may be given directly by member States to the industries. They will thus be able to claim royalties from farmers. For the first time, absolutely all farmers will be inspected.
However, the right of farmers to exchange their seeds can not be limited: it is a necessary first step for Food Sovereignty, but also the first fundamental condition of the existence of farmers and organic farming. These exchanges are essential to farmers’ breeding processes, to ensure constant crop biodiversity renewal. This breeding is fundamental to allowing plants to adapt to local conditions, to the extreme diversity of soils and increasing climate variability, without having recourse of exponential amounts of fertilizers and chemical pesticides.
“This is a direct attack of unprecedented violence against the rights and practice of farmers that have enabled them to feed the people of the world until now, and will allow them to do so in the future. Forcing us to pay registration costs, control fees or unaffordable royalties, is trying to force us to turn to the seed industry, with the dependency that it represents, and their chemicals and phyto-sanitary products. And it will simply become impossible for citizens who want to eat healthily to do so.”, said Guy Kastler, who is responsible for the farmers’ seed file in ECVC.
The European Coordination Via Campesina calls on the European Parliament and the European Council to amend this proposal, and to endorse the right of farmers to produce and exchange their seeds as opposed to endorsing patented seeds and ownership of living organisms by industry. If they leave the door wide open for patents on plants, all seeds will be contaminated by patented genes within a few years, and owned by a handful of multinational corporations.
That would make the Parliament and the Council, like is the Commission today, responsible for the food insecurity of European citizens in the years to come.