About: In December 27, 2023 the Government of Argentina introduced an omnibus bill which includes a clause that would bring the country into UPOV 91. Until now, multinational seed companies have been unsuccessful in their lobbying efforts to change Argentina’s existing seed law which recognizes intellectual property rights for companies, but also guarantees farmers’ rights to use farm saved seed harvested from certified varieties.
By introducing UPOV 91 through an omnibus bill, the government of Argentina is curtailing the vigorous debate over seed issues and imposing the new law unilaterally. Adopting UPOV 91 will give seed companies control over the first step in food production by preventing farmers to save and use seed from their own harvests. Whoever controls the seeds, controls the agri-food chain, and therefore the availability, quality and price of food for the population.
For all these reasons, the National Farmers Union here in Canada has signed the following declaration in solidarity with Argentinian organizations demanding their National Congress to reject the accession to UPOV 91 in order to protect the Food Sovereignty of Argentina’s people.
We support the call on the National Congress to reject Argentina’s accession to UPOV 91
On 27 December 2023, the Argentine government presented a draft “Omnibus Bill” whose Article 241 (among 664) establishes Argentina’s accession to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (1991). This means Argentina joining UPOV 91, an old desire of transnational seed corporations such as Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, Corteva or BASF, and national ones such as Bioceres or Don Mario.
For years, this small groups of corporations, through their organisations, have unsuccessfully sought to amend the current Seed Law (No. 20.247 of 1973), which recognises intellectual property rights (“breeder’s rights”) for companies, but also guarantees farmers’ rights over the fruits of their harvests from certified seeds. These attempts have been systematically rejected by a wide range of farmers’ and civil society organisations.
Joining UPOV 91 represents the deepening of the corporate enclosure of the first link in the entire agri-food chain, through the recognition of stronger intellectual property rights over seeds, amputating the rights of farmers since, among other things, it curtails the possibility they have to save their own seeds, extends the breeder’s right to the harvest and enables the patenting of seeds.
The incorporation of Argentina to an international convention such as UPOV 91 means that the current Seed Law will have to be modified to adapt it to UPOV’s provisions, as is the case with countries that sign free trade agreements. Thus, a discussion that has been going on for more than a decade though parliamentary debate, without consensus, is intended to be settled “from above”, without specific debate, in the framework of the express treatment of an “omnibus bill”, and in extraordinary sessions.
What is at stake in Article 241 is transcendental: whoever controls the seeds, controls the agri-food chain, and therefore the availability, quality and price of the food of the people.
For all these reasons, the undersigned organisations support the demand that the National Congress of Argentina reject the country’s accession to UPOV 91 to protect the food sovereignty of the Argentine people.