On Fri, 23 Jul 1999, Nathan/Rachna Boone wrote:
> In Dan Glickman's recent speech about biotech to the National Press Club,
> he states the following:
> "Agricultural biotechnology has enourmous potential to help combat hunger.
> Genetically modified plants have the potential to resist killer weeds that
> are, literally, starving people in Africa and other parts of the developing
How cynical, untruthful and disengenuous. I expect the only "killer weeds"
certain African farmers are really worried about exist in the "terminator"
> Does anyone have information about what killer weeds he's talking about?
> What developing country food crops are in the pipeline for killer weed
RAFI posted several news updates about this awhile back.
The full text of them can be found here:
Here is part of it:
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 10:28:05 +0200
From: Lee Row <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: African seed saving
Thanks to Kelly Morris, Togo-L list
Winnipeg, Canada (Rural Advancement Foundation International, February 18,
1999) - The following document was released by the Rural Advancement
Foundation International on 17 February 1999: Fifteen Francophone African
states, among them some of the poorest countries in the world, are under
pressure to sign away the right of more than 20 million small-holder
farmers to save and exchange crop seed. The decision to abandon Africa's
12,000-year tradition of seed saving will be finalized at a meeting
February 22-25 in the Central African Republic. The 15 governments have
been told to adopt draconian intellectual property legislation for plant
varieties in order to conform to a provision in the World Trade
Organization (WTO) that obliges signatories to "protect" plant varieties.
The legislation (a kind of legal "Terminator" because it prohibits
farmers from replanting "protected" seed) is also known, euphemistically,
as "Plant Breeders' Rights". If adopted, the legislation will throw some
of Africa's poorest countries into an intellectual property cartel dominated
by a handful of OECD states led by the USA, the UK, and Japan.
During meetings in East Africa a few days ago, RAFI's Pat Mooney and Hope
Shand learned that OAPI (l'Organisation Africaine de la Propriete
Intellectuelle/African Intellectual Property Organization) has agreed to
adopt "UPOV 91" - the world's most restrictive form of Plant Breeders'
Rights. The Convention is managed by the Union for the Protection
of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) - a subsidiary treaty of the Geneva-based
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
"Francophone African countries are being bullied into adopting UPOV'91",
says Pat Mooney, "even though the WTO is about to conduct a review of
its plant variety 'protection' clause." Adds Hope Shand, "The review is
not expected to be completed before 2001. Many analysts predict that a whole
new trade negotiating round may be launched before the review is completed."
"African patent offices are being asked to climb on a wagon other
countries in other regions may never accept," agrees Pat Mooney,
"Conceivably, a new trade round could render compliance unnecessary.
Since six of the 15 OAPI states are "least developed countries"
(according to UNDP definitions), regardless of the review or a new negotiating
round, they have until at least 2006 before they have to introduce any
kind of legislation." "In a worst case scenario," Hope Shand concludes,
"OAPI members would still have the option to accept legislation that
would allow farmers to save, re-use, and even sell purchased seed.
Where is the pressure coming from and why are sovereign countries selling
off the historic rights of their farmers?"
Urgent Action: RAFI is writing to each of the 15 OAPI countries,
contacting both Ministers of Agriculture and Ministers responsible for
patent offices. "Depending on the country," Pat Mooney notes, "between
one-fifth and one-half of all the farmers are small-holders who depend
heavily on their ability to save seed in order to keep production
reliable and costs low. There are at least 20 million such farmers in
OAPI states," Mooney says, "Next week's decision could be a major blow to
the region's food security. We suspect that most Agriculture Ministers
don't even know what their patent offices are proposing to do."
[for more information on OAPI see the document at the above URL]
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