Last update:
2015-02-11

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.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Seed Privatization, Ghana
Country:Ghana
Location of conflict:Ghana
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
GMOs
Biopiracy and bio-prospection
Specific commodities:Seeds
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The 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.

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Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/01/2011
Company names or state enterprises:Monsanto Corporation (Monsanto Co) from United States of America
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Via Campesina, GRAIN, Food Sovereignty Ghana (http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Landless peasants
Trade unions
Students
Forms of mobilization:Development 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-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women
Outcome
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Development of alternatives:Farmers 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Outcome of conflict is uncertain.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

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 to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

The criminalisation of peasant seeds: How farmers are resisting

La Via Campesina & GRAIN. 2015

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Trade Deals Criminalise Farmers’ Seeds
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EJOLT Team
Last update11/02/2015
Comments
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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