Countries Asked To Revise IP Laws Preventing Implementation Of Farmers’ Rights 15/11/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)A global consultation on farmers’ rights recently co-organised by Indonesia and Norway provided recommendations to the international plant treaty, calling for the establishment of an ad hoc working group on farmers’ rights. They also recommended that contracting parties of the treaty revise their intellectual property laws and other legislation that may create obstacles for the realisation of farmers’ rights. The Global Consultation on Farmers’ Rights took place in Bali, Indonesia from 27-30 September and was co-organised by the governments of Indonesia and Norway. The secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) engaged in the preparatory process, according to the treaty’s website. The consultation was attended by 95 participants from 37 countries, from all the seven regions of the FAO, according to a source. Participants came from governments, academia, international organisations (such as the ITPGRFA, the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants [UPOV], and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity), non-governmental organisations (such as Oxfam, the Development Fund, and SEARICE), and farmers and farmers’ organisation (such as la Via Campesina), the source said. According to the co-chairs’ summary of recommendations [pdf] from the event, participants in the consultation shared views, experiences and examples of best practices related to the implementation of farmers’ rights as addressed in the ITPGFRA [pdf]. The two co-chairs of the meeting were Regine Andersen from Norway and Carlos Correa from Argentina. The recommendations are addressed to the governing body of the ITPGFRA. As stated in the ITPGFRA’s notification [pdf] of the event, the consultation follows Resolution5/2015, Implementation of Article 8, Farmers’ Rights, adopted by the Governing Body at its sixth session in October 2015. The resolution asked the secretariat to engage contracting parties and relevant organisations to take initiatives to gather information at national, regional and global levels for exchanging views, experiences and best practices on the implementation of farmers’ rights as set out in Article 9 of the treaty. Farmers rights are the object of Article 9 of the treaty. In particular, Article 9 provides that farmers should have the right to equitably participate in sharing benefits arising from the utilisation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, have the right to participate in making decisions, at the national level, on matters related to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Article 9 also provides that “Nothing in this Article shall be interpreted to limit any rights that farmers have to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed/propagating material, subject to national law and as appropriate.” The issue of the saving, use, exchange and sale of farm-saved seeds by small farmers is an ongoing issue, as breeders of protected new varieties of plants request royalties from farm-saved seeds used in a commercial way. The issue was recently discussed at a symposium organised by UPOV in October (IPW, UPOV, 25 October 2016). Consultation participants identified a range of issues that may affect the realisation of farmers’ rights, and discussed a draft list of recommendations to the Governing Body of the treaty. They said farmers’ rights “is a cornerstone in the treaty, and their realisation is essential for the conservation and sustainable use of crop genetic resources and traditional knowledge, as farmers are custodians and innovators of crop genetic diversity. They also found that farmers’ seed systems constitute the backbone of agricultural production in many parts of the world, and are crucial to food security of local communities in many countries. Those systems are embedded in local cultures and provide important means to maintain identity and traditions, they said. According to the report, the participants in the consultation called on all treaty contracting parties to adopt legislation, build capacity and create the institutional framework necessary for the realisation of farmers’ rights as provided in the treaty. They called contracting parties to “revise, as necessary, seed laws, intellectual property laws and other legislation that may limit the legal space or create undue obstacles for the realization of Farmers Rights.” Ad Hoc Working Group on Farmers’ Rights The participants asked that an ad hoc working group be established to guide and assist contracting parties in the implementation of farmers’ rights. The working group’s terms of reference could include the production of an inventory of national measures that may be adopted to enhance the realisation of farmers’ rights, including the right to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed, subject to national law, they recommended. The report also envisages that contracting parties contribute to the work of the working group by organisational and financial support and by facilitating the participation of farmers’ organisations. The consultation recommendations also foresee encouraging contracting parties and relevant organisations to take initiatives to convene biannual global consultations on the realisation of farmers’ rights, “to bring together all relevant stakeholders, including policy-makers, farmers’ and indigenous peoples’ organizations, government officials, scientists, consumers, public and private research institutions, civil society organizations and the seed industry.” They also asked that the secretariat of the treaty provide inputs about farmers’ rights to the Commission on Human Rights in the context of the ongoing negotiation of a UN declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. The consultation follows after an Informal International Consultation on Farmers’ Rights in Lusaka, Zambia in 2007, and the Global Consultation on Farmers’ Rights in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2010. Image Credits: flickr Find Your Feet Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Countries Asked To Revise IP Laws Preventing Implementation Of Farmers’ Rights" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.