Dear Friends and Colleagues
Independent Assessment Needed to Address Contradictions between International Instruments on Farmers' Rights
“Farmers’ rights” is a core component of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Resolution 8/2013 on the “Implementation of Article 9, Farmers’ Rights” requested the Secretary of the Treaty “to invite UPOV and WIPO to jointly identify possible areas of interrelations among their respective international instruments”. This was to address concerns that UPOV and WIPO actions do not support or even undermine farmers’ rights, thereby hindering implementation of the Treaty’s provisions.
The Secretary of the Treaty subsequently invited Contracting Parties, stakeholders, and others to share any relevant information on the identification of interrelations between the Treaty and relevant instruments of UPOV and WIPO pursuant to Resolution 8/2013. Third World Network and the Berne Declaration submitted detailed comments in response.
Based on that submission, they have issued a joint publication entitled "International Contradictions on Farmers' Rights". It makes a detailed analysis of the stipulations of Article 9 against instruments and actions of UPOV and WIPO, highlighting various inconsistencies. For example, the paper points out that the provisions of UPOV 1991 are not conducive to the implementation of farmers’ rights to freely use, save, exchange and sell seed/propagating material.
In order for there to be a thorough and reliable analysis, the paper calls for an assessment to be conducted by an independent panel of experts who are familiar with farmers’ rights, be evidence-based, and be supported by a transparent and participatory process, including public hearings. A major hurdle will be whether UPOV and WIPO are willing to subject their instruments and related activities to such independent assessment.