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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Harnessing the benefits of ecosystem services for effective ecological intensification in agriculture

Subhash Mehta
Subhash MehtaDevarao Shivaram TrustIndia

MNCs are Globally Controlling and Monopolising Seeds - A threat to nutritious food and health security as these are high cost high risk - not sustainable in the long term

Laws Violate Producer communities' Rights over own 'Low Cost Low Risk Quality Seeds'

Producer communities' seed systems are low cost, low risk and thus stand at the very centre of their agro ecology. Whilst producers' seed rights have been recognised by their governments in several international treaties, the same governments are signing new laws and regulations that negate their rights, allowing MNCs to monopolise the world’s seed supply, even though these are high cost and high risk and not sustainable in the long term.

This is explained in a primer by GRAIN on how farmers are affected by seed laws:

  • plant breeders’ rights or plant variety protection legislation, 
  • patent laws for plants, 
  • certification laws, 
  • marketing regulations and 
  • food safety rules. 

UPOV (the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants), which provides for plant variety protection has got WTO members to protect plant varieties and joining UPOV 1991 has become requirement in bilateral and regional trade agreements involving developed nations.

MNCs are pushing for ever more aggressive new laws and regulations that criminalise producer communities for sowing, keeping, exchanging, and taking care of their own seeds. These take effect through a variety of ways which include: 

(1) bans or restrictions on using and exchanging privatised seeds; 

(2) privatising farmers seeds; 

(3) limits or bans on keeping, exchanging and selling seeds; 

(4) fines and jail terms over seed saving and exchange; and 

(5) reversing the burden of proof on to the farmers.

Producer communities' resistance has and is gatherring momentum around the world, managing to stop and repeal these new seed regulations. GRAIN calls for further support and strengthening of such action.

"UPOV 91 and Other Seed Laws Primer on How MNCs Intend to Control and Monopolise Seeds" can be accessed at: