Seed Privatization, Ghana

Students and trade unions join farmers to oppose a restrictive seed law


Description

In Ghana, students and trade unions have joined small-scale farmers’ organisations in mobilising against a Plant Breeders’ Rights (PVP) Bill. Currently under consideration in parliament, the Bill would establish a national seed law based on UPOV ’91. As has been the case in many countries around the world, the law is being used to introduce legal restrictions on farmers’ use of seeds that go above and beyond the already very restrictive provisions of UPOV ’91. For example, the draft Bill states that “even in absence of proof to the contrary” the breeders can be assumed to be the owners of a variety in question, facilitating both biopiracy and the confiscation of seeds. Moreover, according to the Bill, if farmers use a protected variety against the law—such as reproducing the seeds of a ‘protected’ variety and sharing it with their neighbours—the farmers may be subject to up to 2,000 penalty units and up to two years in prison.

See more...
Basic Data
NameSeed Privatization, Ghana
CountryGhana
SiteGhana
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Biopiracy and bio-prospection
GMOs
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Specific CommoditiesSeeds
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe proposed Plant Breeders’ Rights (PVP) Bill would establish a national seed law based on the privatizing International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) ’91. This law is being used to introduce legal restrictions on farmers’ use of seeds that go above and beyond the already very restrictive provisions of UPOV ’91. For example, the draft Bill states that “even in absence of proof to the contrary” the breeders can be assumed to be the owners of a variety in question, facilitating both biopiracy and the confiscation of seeds. Moreover, according to the Bill, if farmers use a protected variety against the law—such as reproducing the seeds of a ‘protected’ variety and sharing it with their neighbours—the farmers may be subject to up to 2,000 penalty units and up to two years in prison.

It is not only organisations like UPOV, which directly work for the seed industry, that are pushing for stronger intellectual property rights around the world. In 2008, under the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program, the World Bank granted Mali 50 million CFA (76 000 Euros) to develop and ‘protect’ fifty crop varieties. The idea was to wean farmers off of traditional seeds, which are viewed as ‘backward’ and ‘low yielding’, by encouraging the breeding and production of improved seeds. These seeds would be protected and the royalties would translate into income for Mali’s public research system.
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date01/01/2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesMonsanto Corporation (Monsanto Co) from United States of America
International and Financial InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersVia Campesina, GRAIN, Food Sovereignty Ghana (http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Landless peasants
Trade unions
Students
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of alternative proposals
Media based activism/alternative media
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women
Outcome
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Development of AlternativesFarmers in Ghana are demanding that public breeding programs be put in place to ensure quality seed for indigenous crops such as cowpeas, cassava, rice and coconut. In addition, groups of farmers and their allies have plans to organise collective projects for access to seed in the villages. This will allow farmers to access varieties that have vanished locally but may still be used by their neighbours or by other farmers in villages across Ghana.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Outcome of conflict is uncertain.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV)
[click to view]

African Model Legislation for the Protection of the Rights of Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders, and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources

References

The criminalisation of peasant seeds: How farmers are resisting

La Via Campesina & GRAIN. 2015

Links

Trade Deals Criminalise Farmers’ Seeds
[click to view]

Other Documents

March against Monsanto in Accra Source: https://www.popularresistance.org/trade-deals-criminalise-farmers-seeds/
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJOLT Team
Last update11/02/2015
Comments