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    UPOV 1991 Will Adversely Impact Farmers In Tanzania, Civil Society And Farmers Say

    Published on 25 March 2013 @ 7:11 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    Tanzania is on the road to becoming a member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), but Tanzanian civil society and farmers’ organisations have warned about possible detrimental effects on small-holder farmers and have asked government to halt the ratification process until all stakeholders have been consulted.

    A major concern of local farmers is that adoption of the new UPOV rules will severely curtail the farmers’ ability to reuse seed from their crops, as they have done throughout history.

    According to a news release published by UPOV, the Council, which held its thirtieth extraordinary session on 22 March, “welcomed the adoption of the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act for Mainland Tanzania on November 5.”

    The UPOV Council further “decided that the Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill for Zanzibar, subject to certain modifications, was in conformity with the provisions of the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention.”

    “The Council noted that, once the Draft Law for Zanzibar was adopted, breeders’ rights would cover the whole territory and the United Republic of Tanzania could become a UPOV member,” according to the release.

    During the last session of the Council, on 1 November, the Council examined the draft legislation of mainland Tanzania (IPW, Biodiversity/Genetic Resources/Biotech, 29 October 2012). The United Republic of Tanzania comprises mainland Tanzania and Zansibar.

    On the same day, a number of civil society organisations and farmers’ organisations, such as Swissaid Tanzania, the African Centre for Biosafety, East & Southern Africa Farmers Federation, and ActionAid Tanzania released a statement warning about implications of acceding to UPOV 1991.

    UPOV 1991 is the last version of the UPOV Convention, first adopted in Paris in 1961 and revised in 1972, 1978 and 1991. Civil society representatives have said that UPOV 1991 was more stringent than earlier versions, to the disadvantage of small farmers.

    In their statement, the signatories said “the rush for Zanzibar to adopt its Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill is clearly designed to satisfy UPOV requirements and hasten Tanzania’s entry into this intellectual property legal framework.”

    The signatories said that the process has been non-participatory, shutting out farmers. “We are deeply concerned that farmers’ organizations and relevant civil society organizations have not been consulted on the Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill for Zanzibar.”

    Of particular concern is the fact that small-holder farmers and women farmers are dependent on the informal seed sector and the customary practices of freely saving, using, exchanging and selling farm-saved seeds and other propagating material, practices which would be “severely” restricted by UPOV 1991.

    The statement signatories are asking that the government of Tanzania “immediately halt all processes leading to the ratification of UPOV 1991, until all relevant stakeholders – including farmers – have been adequately consulted and their concerns sufficiently addressed.”

    Developing Country Resistance to UPOV 1991

    A number of African civil society organisations said in November that the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) had proposed a draft regional harmonised policy and legal framework on plant variety protection based on UPOV 1991, according to a media release, and that “the participation of farmers, farmer movements and civil society organizations has been conspicuously absent.” ARIPO is expected to hold national and regional consultations this year, according to the civil society group.

    The same resistance was met in Colombia, where the Constitutional Court declared UPOV 91 unconstitutional because indigenous and afro-Colombian peoples had not been consulted before approving Act 1518 of 2012. Colombian civil society said the government was expected to start a process of consultation with indigenous and afro-Colombian peoples (IPW, Biodiversity/Genetic Resources/Biotech, 04 February 2013).

    Serbia is a new UPOV member. The country deposited its instrument of accession to the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention on 5 December 2012, according to the UPOV release.

     

    Catherine Saez may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

     


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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