Resisting Corporate Seed Laws in South Africa

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Courtesy of the African Centre for Biodiversity:

On 22nd May 2018, South Africa’s draconian corporate seed Bills were approved by the Parliamentary Select Committee, after a lengthy review process. These Seed Bills - the Plant Breeders Rights Bill and the Plant Improvement Bill - are remnants of apartheid style legislation. Instead of embedding the transformative and empowering policies required by the country, they fail to concretely protect and promote smallholder farmers, and small-scale seed enterprises and support social justice and ecological integrity. As these laws now stand, farmers - or black- or women-owned small seed enterprises wanting to produce seed commercially, will have to comply with onerous and prohibitively costly requirements on the same footing as multinational seed companies. Further, if farmers recycle and share popular open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) that are protected in the law, they are liable to prosecution, unless they are producing for private AND non-commercial purposes only, i.e. on their own holdings and for the sole use of the household. Taken together, both seed laws undermine farmer-managed seed systems and prohibit the age-old practices of recycling, exchanging and selling farm saved seed.

This video, Resisting Corporate Seed Laws in South Africa, from the seed policy session at the National Seed Dialogue and Celebration, hosted by the African Centre for Biodiversity at Constitution Hill in December 2017, unpacks some of the main concerns with these seed laws and implications for farmers’ rights and the conservation of agricultural biodiversity.