June 15, 2009

Canada blocking consensus on farmer rights to seed

Harper Government again sides with multinationals over farmers, risking our food production

OTTAWA –New Democrat Agriculture Critic Alex Atamanenko MP for BC Southern Interior - is demanding that the government stop blocking measures to protect farmers against large corporations. Right now, in Tunisia, Canada’s representatives at a meeting of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant and Genetic Resources are holding up a resolution under negotiation to reaffirm farmers’ rights to save, use, exchange and sell their seeds.

“Far too often we see Canada blocking consensus at international forums in order to further the interests of multinational corporations who have been allowed to use patents as an instrument of control over the seed market,” said Atamanenko. “It is time for our government to get behind the more wholesome system of food production, that most countries around the world are fighting for.”

The action plan in the draft resolution which has been approved by all the member states except for Canada has three main elements:

1) Review all existing seed legislation for their impact on farmers’ rights, including provisions on intellectual property rights (patents)
2) Workshops and capacity building on farmers rights in different countries
3) An ongoing information sharing and monitoring mechanism in each country on farmers’ rights.

“This is an important opportunity to be part of an international commitment to protect farmers’ rights, especially in regards to seed legislation,” stated Atamanenko. “Most Canadians want to be a part a global consensus against the corporate monopoly of the world’s seeds, and it would be a travesty if our government were to vote against this important resolution.

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