Region 5 | Media Release

NFU-Manitoba hosts European Farmers speaking tour February 22-24 in Winnipeg and Brandon

“Sowing Seeds: A European Perspective” features Claudia Schievelbein of Germany and Guy Kastler of France. Both European farmers are affiliated with La Via Campesina (LVC), the world-wide farmers’ movement for dignity and social justice, of which the National Farmers Union is a member. They will share their experiences around issues such as farmers’ right to save seed, royalties, Plant Breeders Rights legislation, public versus private funding of seed research and the implications of trade agreements such as CETA.

“We are at a crucial point in our Canadian history when it comes to farm policies, seed laws and rural economies. Looking ahead to improve rural Canada and farm livelihoods involves learning from our European neighbours, who recently succeeded in stopping their governments from enacting a new set of restrictive seed laws,” said Ian Robson, NFU Region 5 (Manitoba) Coordinator. “We invite farmers and fellow-citizens to take advantage of this learning opportunity so we can work together to advance food sovereignty.”

“The food we eat and grow in Canada is now, more than ever, shaped by international trade and seed policies. It is essential for us to understand the trends, institutions, policies and resistance that have emerged in the European Union,” added Jan Slomp, NFU President. “The European farmers’ tour will begin a needed public discussion in relation to seed laws, heritage seeds and the seed industry. By bringing about new awareness of how farmer and public involvement can shape our seed and trade policies, we can move them in the direction we want to go.”

“We have been living with new seed-related law for less than a year. Bill C-18, which implemented UPOV’91, was passed last February. We are concerned about the quality of seed breeding and variety development research, the status of seed ownership under UPOV’91, and what the costs will be to Canadian farmers,” said Robson. “Let’s hear from these Europeans about their experience with seed laws and how they affect conditions for farmers.”

The tour will include Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, beginning in Winnipeg on February 22 and wrapping up in Quebec on February 28.

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For more information:

Ian Robson, NFU Region 5 (Manitoba) Coordinator: (204) 858-2479 or
Rozanne Nevakshonoff, Organizer: (204) 664-2111 or
Tour details:

PDF version of this media release

Claudia Schievelbein is a farmer and journalist for the Independent Voice of the Farmer for the Farmer, the monthly newspaper published by the German family farmers organization: Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL), of which her family is a member. She has reported on a variety of seed issues including royalties, farm-saved seeds, patents, GMOs, conventional and organic markets, and farms in Germany and Europe.

Guy Kastler is a French organic farmer and Confédération Paysanne leader. He is internationally recognized for his long-standing involvement in protecting farmers’ rights to seeds. Guy’s experience includes the area of international seed policies such as UPOV. He is an observer for La Via Campesina on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) as well as an advisor and activist on key seeds rights legal actions in France.

Manitoba event dates and locations:
Monday, Feb. 22nd – 3:30 – 5:30 pm at the University of Manitoba
256 Agriculture Bldg – 66 Dafoe Rd, Winnipeg, MB.

Tuesday, Feb 23rd – 2:30 – 4:30 pm at Knox United Church
451 – 18th Street, Brandon, MB.

Wednesday, Feb 24th – 6:45pm – 8:45 pm at Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftsbury Blvd – RM C167, Winnipeg, MB.

Funding for this event has been provided in part by Growing Forward 2.

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