Seed is constantly creating and recreating itself. Farmers, who sowed, bread, saved and exchanged seeds for thousands of years, always own the seeds. Sadly, the arrival of commercial seed industries changed the whole picture. These Multinational Corporation had successfully taken away the ownership of seeds from the hands of the farmers in the form of patents. At present, seeds are largely controlled by industrial giants like Monsanto, Du Pont, Syngenta and Bayer. A patent is an exclusive right granted to an inventor to make and sell the patented product. Patent prevent farmers from saving or exchanging seed, therefore, undermining the farmers’ rights or seed sovereignty. Patent creates monopolies, which undermine the choice of farmers as well as all citizens as eaters.
A seed is not an invention. That is why patents on seeds are illegitimate. Even in a genetically engineered crop, the original seed come from farmers. Patents on seed are based on biopiracy.
Patents on seeds which allow corporations to own seed are illegal at many levels. (http://seedfreedom.info/)
First, seed is not an invention. Seed is constantly creating and recreating itself. To treat seed as a corporate invention and grant corporations patents on seed violates ethics or patent law itself.
Secondly, all seed has been evolved by nature and farmers over millennia. The corporation takes farmers varieties, use the trait they found commercially useful, and take a patent or intellectual property right. Patents on seed are always based on Biopiracy.
Thirdly, patents on seed allow corporations to prevent farmers from saving and exchanging seed. Thus patent violates farmers’ right to save, use, reuse, breed and exchange seed as their commons.
Fourthly, patents on seed allow corporations to sue farmers’ after the GMO is owned by corporations.They genetically contaminate farmers’ non GMO crops. This happened to Percy Schmeiser, the Canadian farmer.
Fifthly, the international law that forced patents on seed, the TRIPS agreement, is itself currently illegal because it exists in violation of the mandatory review built into the agreement.
The below article explains how one of the major seed industry is under attack for capturing seed freedom from farmers of Ghana.
Seed Freedom Under Attack from Monsanto-backed G7 Initiative
By Heidi Chow (http://www.commondreams.org/)
Heidi Chow is a food campaigner with “Global Justice Now”.
“My mother gave me some seeds to plant. And I’m also giving those seeds to my children to plant. So that is ongoing, every time we transfer to our children. And that is how all the women are doing it. We don’t buy, we produce it ourselves.” Sitting together in the heat of the Ghanaian sun, Esther Boakye Yiadom explained to me the importance of seeds in her family and the transfer of knowledge between the different generations of women.
The ability to save and exchange seeds, after each growing season is an age-old practice that ensures that small scale farmers have seeds to sow the following year. The seeds are free for the farmer and they have the knowledge of what seed is required, for what conditions and the different tastes that complement the food they cook. Where they do not have a particular seed, they can ask other farmers in the community to share seeds. This ‘freedom’ is essential for sustainable livelihoods as well as ensuring communities have access to nutritious and culturally relevant food. But this is all under threat by a proposed bill – dubbed the ‘Monsanto Law’ – in Ghana that would bolster the power of multinational seed companies whilst restrict the rights of small farmers to keep and swap their seeds.
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Image courtesy: http://www.farmradio.org/