Dominican Republic´s farmers threatened by new seed bill

Dominican Republic Senator affiliated with chemical industry promotes a new seed law that touches off farmers movement

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">In the spring of 2014, the member of the senate of the Dominican Republic Amilcar Romero introduced a new law for the marketing of seeds. Senator Romero is a businessman coming from the agro-chemical industry and vice-president of Ferquido (Dominican Chemical Fertilizers).</div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">Since then, peasant organisations have been mobilising to demand that the law be amended and that peasant organisations be consulted. According to the bill, which has already passed in the senate, peasant varieties would be excluded from the market due to their inability to meet DUS requirements. This refers to the procedure and the conduct of tests for distinctness, uniformity and stability (hereinafter: DUS) of new varieties of plants for the purpose of granting the Breeder’s Right.<br/><br/>Moreover, the bill prohibits the non-commercial exchange of non-registered seeds. The penalties for doing so include sentences of up to two years in jail and fines of up to 250 times the minimum wage. As is the case with the new wave of seed laws being passed throughout Latin America, Article 82 states that if farmers break the law, their seeds may be confiscated. The current proposal also includes ambiguous clauses that at first sight would appear positive, such as one proposing to restrain the use of seeds that could cause ”genetic contamination.” However farmers have warned that this may not necessarily refer to GMOs but could be interpreted to mean farmers’ varieties which the industry could argue are ‘contaminating’ its ‘improved’ varieties, as has happened in Peru with local cotton.(1)<br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Dominican Republic´s farmers threatened by new seed bill</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/dominican-republic">Dominican Republic</a></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture and Livestock Management)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>GMOs<br /> Biopiracy and bio-prospection<br /> Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/biological-resources'>Biological resources</a><br />seeds</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Rural</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>04/04/2014</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/dominican-chemical-fertilizers'>Fertilizantes Químicos Dominicanos (Ferquido) <small>(FERQUIDO)</small></a> from <a href='/country-of-company/dominican-republic'><small>Dominican Republic</small></a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Senator Amilcar Romero</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>- National Farmers´ Articulation<br/><br/>- Environment Commission of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo<br/><br/>- Association of Agronomist Engineers</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>LOW (some local organising)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>PREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Farmers<br /> Local ejos<br /> Landless peasants<br /> Social movements<br /> Women<br /> Local scientists/professionals</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Creation of alternative reports/knowledge<br /> Development of alternative proposals<br /> Involvement of national and international NGOs<br /> Media based activism/alternative media<br /> Public campaigns</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Potential: </strong>Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Soil contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Potential: </strong>Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Other environmental related diseases</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Potential: </strong>Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>Proposed (exploration phase)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>New legislation<br /> As of May 2015, the bill had not been passed nor withdrawn</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Development of Alternatives</td><td>The National Farmers' Articulation submitted proposals in order to make the bill fairer to the farmers. The proposals, supported by the Environment Commission of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD), as well as the Association of Agronomist Engineers and other institutions, proposed to improve and enlarge the legal framework of the law, introducing, for instance, the concepts of “ancestral” or “peasant” seed, and vegetative material. They also corrected many dispositions of the law that were allegedly unconstitutional. The proposals are aimed at enlarging the legal framework so that farmers would not be criminalised regarding their traditional and cultural use of the seeds. (2)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>Not Sure</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>The bill has not passed yet, but neither has it been withdrawn.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Ley No. 450-06 sobre Protección de los Derechos del Obtentor de Variedades Vegetales.<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> (1)GRAIN, Dominican Republic's seeds threatened by a new law<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> (2)TeleSUR, Dominican Republic: Farmers Mobilize Against National Law on Seeds<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Media Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Dominican Republic Farmer<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Documents</td><td><table><tr><td><p> <a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Carolina Modena</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>04/08/2015</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>