CBAN: Could Canada-Europe trade deal eliminate seed saving?

Canada-Europe trade deal could virtually eliminate farmers’ rights to save seed: National Farmers Union

The third round of trade negotiations with Europe concludes this week
in Ottawa – National Farmers Union says leaked draft text reveals that
the Canada-Europe trade deal could virtually eliminate farmers’ rights
to save seed in Canada. GMOs exempt from the agreement as European
opposition continues. For more information see
National Farmers Union, Press Release, April 21, 2010

Secret text of Canada-EU Trade Deal Released: The agreement may be the largest single issue on farm-policy horizon.

OTTAWA, Ont. NFU President Terry Boehm was in Ottawa Monday to
participate in the release of a draft text of the Canada-EU
Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).  The NFU is a
partner in the newly-formed Trade Justice Network, the group that
released the text.  Boehm also spoke at a well-attended evening
meeting in Ottawa dealing with the CETA.

“We now have in-hand a proposed agreement that would reshape Canadian
agriculture: reducing farm support program spending; radically
rewriting the laws that govern farmers’ seed saving and re-use; and
probably in the future, opening another front in the attacks against
the Canadian Wheat Board and supply management,” said NFU President

As an example of the Agreement’s impacts on farmers, Boehm pointed to
proposed changes governing seeds.  Through the agreement, the European
Union (EU) is aggressively pushing Canada to adopt a stringent and
farmer-binding version of Plant Breeders Rights (PBR).  That version
of PBR, known as “UPOV 91” would effectively extinguish farmers
rights to save and re-use seeds.  Worse, the Agreement would give farm-
crushing enforcement powers to any corporation that asserted a farmer
had infringed the company’s intellectual property rights (IPR).

“Farmers know how much power Monsanto and other companies wield when it comes to enforcing their rights with regard to seeds that contain
patented genes.  The UPOV 91 requirement and other provisions within
the CETA would give seed companies enforcement and confiscation powers
pertaining to all other seeds (those that do not contain patented genes)
that exceed even the powers that companies possess for their gene-
patented varieties” said Boehm.

As an example, CETA/UPOV would give PBR holders control over who can
“condition seed” giving seed companies a veto power over independent
seed cleaners.  “If farmers can’t get their farm-saved seeds cleaned,
farmers can’t save and re-use seed” said Boehm.

As another example, CETA/UPOV includes Intellectual Property
“protections” that will give seed companies the power to seize crops,
farm property, and seeding and harvest equipment, and freeze bank
accounts if companies suspect infringement by a farmer.  CETA’s IPR
Chapter states: “In the case of infringement committed on a commercial
scale . . . the judicial authorities may order the precautionary
seizure of the movable and immovable property of the alleged
infringer, including blocking his/her bank accounts and other assets.”

“The costs of the CETA are unbearably high” concluded Boehm, “but the
offsetting benefits are almost nonexistent.  Canadian farmers who
produce GM crops are going to be very disappointed if they think that
EU markets will open up for their crops as a result of the CETA,
because the Agreement says all European GM regulations are exempted
from its provisions.  Similarly, cattle producers have nothing to
gain.  The WTO has already ruled Europes ban on Canadian beef
illegal; but the EU accepted the ruling and chose to pay the fine
rather than accept our meat.  As a market access agreement, the CETA
fails miserably.”

For more information, contact:

Terry Boehm, NFU President:                  (306) 255-2880

Darrin Qualman, Director of Research:     (306) 652-9465

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)

Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice
431 Gilmour Street, Second Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 0R5
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext.6
Fax: 613 241 2506

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