(you can download the full briefing (pdf) from the document tools)
A new collaborative Briefing, written by GRAIN and published by PANAP (Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific), takes a close look at seed laws in the Asia region. It comprises one of the PANAP Rice Sheets under its Save Our Rice campaign. While the Briefing mentions rice-related laws and some policies of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the collaborators are keen to show the bearing that these have on seed laws in general, and the wider consequences of seed laws on traditional varieties and farmers’ freedoms.
In recent decades Asia has seen a significant shift from non-regulation to government rule-making over seeds. The Briefing spans the period from the first big assault on farmers’ seeds in the 1960s – the Green Revolution – to the present day. Changing seed technologies, from hybrids to genetic modification (GM), have a bearing on national seed laws. Together these technologies and the new generation of laws have the dual effect of shifting control away from farmers while increasing profits for seed and agro-chemical companies. This Briefing looks at some of the main players behind this trend, such as the big transnational corporations and regional seed assocations. It also shows the role of international organisations like the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR); international agreements on trade, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs); and at specific treaties on plants – the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). It surveys the situation of over a dozen countries, from Afghanistan to Bangladesh and from Malaysia to the Philippines. Apart from seed laws per se, the Briefing also highlights laws on intellectual property rights (IPR), such as plant variety legislation in some Asian countries, and the limits they impose on farmers’ seed freedoms. The Briefing unpacks the real agenda behind such laws. It highlights how the trend through these laws is to support the emerging corporate seed sector, rather than farmers and their seeds. In conclusion, it points the way forward for local seeds, small farmers and food sovereignty, through diverse forms of local resistance.
2. Threats to Farmers' Seeds
3. International and Regional Influences
4. Regional Situation
5. Future Trends
6. The People’s Response
It was written in January 2010. It is printed by PANAP. Any enquiries for hard copies may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reference: PANAP & GRAIN, 2010, Asia’s Seed Laws – Control Over Farmers’ Seeds, PANAP Rice Sheet. Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PANAP), Penang, Malaysia.