Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

Who controls the seed?

Community commons, private control and public domain

Organiser(s): Siegrid Herbst, Association of GM free breeders, Germany


Guy Kastler, Reseau Semences Paysanne, France


Plant Variety Certificates (PVC) imposed by UPOV are often presented as an acceptable alternative to patents. However, PVCs have actually become worse. Similarly to patents they ban or impose royalties on farm-saved seeds. PVCs also legalise biopiracy by accepting the protection of « discovered » varieties without revealing their origin.  Exempted from the obligation to indicate the particular breeding method used, PVCs hide the clandestine dissemination of plants manipulated by mutagenesis, cellular fusion, nanotechnologies…By imposing the obligatory catalogue, PVCs are banning peasants’ seeds. The recent proposition of a catalogue for « conservation varieties » dismantles the last possibilities available to farmers for contributing to the renewal of cultivated biodiversity. Through the free trade agreements the current reform based on the European seed production model, cumulating UPOV and patents on genes, is being imposed worldwide.The rights of peasants to conserve, use, exchange and sell their seeds reproduced on farms, to access resources in collections and participate in national decision-making processes are inscribed in the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) ratified by several countries, which fail to apply it. Through benefit sharing and the freedom of trade, farmers are incited to trade their rights for the illusion of profiting from patents and PVCs that actually forbid these rights.  The confiscation of biodiversity locked up in gene banks and its generalised contamination by GMOs announce its final disappearance if it is not renewed in the fields. How can the collective rights of farmers be applied and protected as of now in order to guarantee the protection of cultivated biodiversity? What legal avenues are possible? What actions should we take: taking biodiversity out of gene banks, developing community-based seed houses, etc.?

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Last Contributions

Background Papers and further reading

In English:
Community commons, private control and public domain,
from Guy Kastler
The IPR  on life forms do not contribute to the conservation of biodiversity. On the contrary, patents on genes and the PVP  are weapons which are massively destroying everything that is alive.

India can beat the food crisis
Dr Suman Sahai, Convenor, Gene Campaign

COFAB, a developping country alternative to UPOV
Dr. Suman Sahai, Gene Campaign

Farmers' rights & agricultural security: India's plant variety protection and farmers' rights act, 2001
Dr.Suman Sahai (Convenor), Gene Campaign, New Delhi, India

En Français:
Droits collectifs, contrôle privé et domaine public
Contribution de Guy Kastler,
Les DPI  sur le vivant ne contribuent pas à la conservation de la biodiversité. Le brevet sur le gène et le COV  sont au contraire des armes de destructions massives de tout ce qui vit.

Proposition de quelques stratégies de lutte pour la souveraineté alimentaire
Sara Camara, 05.05.2008

Who controls the seed?Qui contrôle les semences?Neue Pflanzenbild-Anspruchsrechte der Pflanze¿Quién controla las semillas?

Local Organising Committee