More than 300 peasant, family farming, food sovereignty, trade union and human rights organizations signed in just a few hours the rejection of the plenary called by the Agriculture Commission of Deputies to discuss a new Seed Law.
The signatories denounce that the project, which has not yet been made public, is tailored to the agribusiness corporations and persecutes small producers by monopolizing goods on which the world's food also depends. They denounce that, among other things, ILO Convention 169, which obliges the State to consult indigenous peoples, was not respected. How does the conflict between freedom and business work? Carlos Vicente, from GRAIN, explains to Lavaca: “This is the people's battle to control the seeds. There is a tough fight ahead so that food does not depend on the corporations ”. What is at stake.
Maritsa Puma is a member of the Union of Land Workers (UTT), for hours she has been standing in front of the Annex of the National Congress selling vegetables for 10 pesos in the so-called Verdurazo called for this afternoon.
He speaks very clearly: “In the farm where we work we use varieties of seeds that today try to tell us that they are not useful, because they want us to believe that theirs is better. That's a lie. We produce without pesticides, in an agroecological way, denying everything they want us to believe ”.
More than 300 signatures of peasant, food sovereignty, territorial, trade union and human rights organizations came together overnight to repudiate the plenary called by the Agriculture Commission of the Chamber of Deputies with the aim of obtaining an opinion and advancing with the treatment of a new Seed Law before the end of the year. The signatories underlined in a statement that, for months, agribusiness corporations have been negotiating with the State the general guidelines of a new legal framework that seeks to grant seed companies (Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta-Chemchina, Basf, among others) the possibility of ending the “right of own use” of farmers, and thus collect royalties each time a seed subject to breeder's rights is used (the companies).
Who defends freedom?
"The project was never made public, so we don't know what they are going to sit down to discuss," Carlos Vicente, from the GRAIN organization and Biodiversity magazine, tells Lavaca. “But, at its core, what is at stake is that, if approved, anyone who saves the seeds for planting today will have to declare how many they will save and then pay royalties. This goes against the essence of agriculture, which is the continuity of 10,000 years of seed transfer history. Now they want that, if one does not declare it, go to prison or pay tremendous fines.
The organizations called a press conference in front of the Congress Annex to denounce the intent of the corporations. There, the Mother of Plaza de Mayo Line of Founder, Nora Cortiñas, participated, among others: “By defending the lands and seeds, we defend national sovereignty. These days we are going to have to fight a lot because, with the orders of the IMF, they seek to dominate us completely. We have to be on the street every day ”.
It is striking that the supposed liberals, in this case, seek to concentrate monopolically with the State as guarantor of a good of nature and humanity, such as seeds.
It is the organizations –mainly peasant, indigenous and producers- that are planted on this issue on the side of respect for freedom.
That is why they state: “ALL the seeds that today feed humanity and that are commercialized by large corporations are the result of the collective work of the peoples for more than ten thousand years. We have the possibility of producing healthy food for all Argentines. This is being demonstrated by peasant organizations, family and indigenous producers who produce between 70 and 80% of the food consumed by those of us who live in Argentina ”.
The Terminator project
Vicente points out that the intention to modify the Seed Law has been going on for years, and that now they have tried to change some points to make it pass without obstacles. “A project talks about the fact that small producers are not going to have to pay. Another says they will pay for 5 years. But the risk is in the undemocratic that means, among many things, that Argentina, even subscribing to ILO Convention 169, does not comply with the obligation to consult indigenous peoples on measures that affect their natural resources. That, here, has not been done ”.
Remember that, in Colombia, Congress managed to pass a seed law, but it was declared unconstitutional for not respecting that consultation. “There is resistance in many countries. In Chile it was also discussed, but the peasant mobilization was imposed with the support of the students and it was not approved. In general, the countries that approved it are those that signed the Free Trade Agreements, such as Costa Rica. There is a permanent push and pull in Latin America and around the world with many actions of resistance by the peasants ”.
During the press conference in Congress, the organizations that signed the document stressed that it is not by chance that the law is being sought in the face of the G20 summit that will take place in the country. Vicente summarizes what is behind these types of projects: “We question that the corporations launched themselves 50 years ago, with the so-called 'green revolution', to dominate seeds to control food and make us have merchandise instead of food. They have come a long way down several paths: Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta handle more than 50 percent of the world's seed market. It is a tremendous concentration. They also handle the use of technology and seeds like the Terminator, a self-destructing seed. This is the battle of the peoples to control the seeds. There is a tough fight ahead so that food does not depend on the corporations ”.
Sovereignty and technology
The organizations synthesized the rejection in some specific points:
- “Because it implies the submission of producers to royalty payments for years, when they wish to save seeds to re-sow. This means the violation of a basic right, which gives meaning to agriculture. This mechanism will allow the persecution of producers, as is already happening in other countries.
- * Because it advances in the criminalization of native and creole seeds, preventing free exchange between family producers, peasants and peasants and native peoples. In this way, the law 27,118 (On the Historical Repair of Family Agriculture for the construction of a New Rurality in Argentina) is unknown, which, in contrast, protects these seeds and allows their free exchange and reproduction.
- Because the free and informed prior consultation of native peoples required by ILO Convention 169, to which Argentina is a Party, has been avoided; since it is they who have generated almost ALL the knowledge and agricultural diversity that today feeds us and who exchange seeds with other peasants and indigenous peoples.
- Because ALL the seeds that feed humanity today and that are commercialized by large corporations are the result of the collective work of the peoples for more than ten thousand years. This is being demonstrated by peasant organizations, family and indigenous producers who produce between 70 and 80% of the food consumed by those of us who live in Argentina.
- Because the project to be approved was negotiated OUTSIDE the Chamber of Deputies by the Executive, the seed companies (spokesmen for Bayer-Monsanto) and the large producers grouped in the SRA (Sociedad Rural Argentina). All the "consultation" meetings held were a "staging" to allow them to now propose a supposed "unified" project that arises from an "act of understanding" that expresses the voice of seedbeds and large producers. In this way, the project that was NEVER made public, excludes the interests of native peoples, producers of family agriculture, peasants and consumers ”.
And he closes: “What is at stake is absolutely vital. In the countries where the corporations managed to impose their seed laws, totally questionable events happen: the persecution of farmers, the criminalization of seed exchanges from which we Argentines eat healthy and healthy, the destruction of crops and greater control on food and its prices, to the detriment of the food and technological sovereignty of our country ”.
Photos: Nacho Yuchark