Letter to the Editor: Joyce Neufeld — July 29, 2014

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What is UPOV’91 -- Bill C-18?  

The Agricultural Growth Act is an omnibus bill introduced on Dec. 9, 2013. Omnibus bills amend many pieces of legislation at once, often on unrelated matters. Omnibus bills make it impossible to fully examine each proposed change.

Under C18, Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) apply to newly bred varieties that are essentially derived from PBR-protected varieties, allowing plant breeders to exercise control over the results of future plant breeding.

Bill C18 allows for collection of end-point royalties (EPR) if royalties are not first collected on seed.  An EPR system would require compulsory payments by farmers to the plant breeder upon sale of a crop grown from a PBR-protected variety.  The main beneficiaries of C-18 would thus be private breeders, including the large companies that dominate the global seed industry: Monsanto, DuPont, Pioneer, Syngenta, Limagrain, Land O Lakes, KWS, Bayer Cropscience, and Dow AgroSciences.  Farmers would be at the mercy of these multinationals.

With this information, at the February 2014 SARM annual convention, delegates voted strongly in favour of the following:

• Resolution No 12 – 14A, RM of Emerald No 277 – UPOV’91

“WHEREAS adoption of UPOV’91 will reduce the freedom and rights of Canadian farmers, increase production costs, lower income margins and hurt farmer independence; BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the Provincial Government to use their influence with the Federal Government to remove this section from the Agriculture Growth Act.”

Yet, on April 23, SARM sent out a letter to all reeves, councillors and administrators that contained a statement from Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture promoting UPOV’91.

If Bill C-18 passes there will be negative consequences for farmers regardless of how they obtain their seed. C-18 would result in increased seed costs due to higher royalties on more varieties. Seed companies could/would deregister varieties currently in the public domain (royalty-free seed), reducing farmers’ choice of seed and pushing them to use more expensive seed protected by Plant Breeders’ Rights.

So, who calls the shots at SARM, delegates or the Sask. Party?

  

Joyce Neufeld

Waldeck, Sask.

Organizations: Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, Federal Government Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture Sask. Party

Geographic location: Waldeck, Sask.

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