Dear Friends and Colleagues

Laws that Violate Farmers' Rights over Seeds

Farmer seed systems stand at the very origin of agriculture. Although farmers' seed rights have been recognised by governments in several international treaties, the same governments are signing new laws and regulations that trample on those rights, allowing multinational corporations to further dominate the world’s seed supply.

This is explained in a primer by GRAIN on how farmers are affected by seed laws which include plant breeders’ rights or plant variety protection legislation, patent laws for plants, seed certification laws, seed marketing regulations and food safety rules. At the centre of this is UPOV (the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants), which provides for plant variety protection. All WTO members are required to protect plant varieties; and joining UPOV 1991 has become a common requirement in bilateral and regional trade agreements involving developed nations.

Corporations are pushing for ever more aggressive new laws and regulations that criminalise farmers for sowing, keeping, exchanging, and taking care of their seeds. These take effect through a variety of ways which include: (1) bans or restrictions on using and exchanging privatised seeds; (2) privatising farmers seeds; (3) limits or bans on keeping, exchanging and selling seeds; (4) fines and jail terms over seed saving and exchange; and (5) reversing the burden of proof on to the farmers.

Popular resistance has surged around the world, and in many places, this has managed to stall and even repeal new seed regulations. GRAIN calls for further support and strengthening of such action.

The primer entitled "UPOV 91 and Other Seed Laws: A Basic Primer on How Companies Intend to Control and Monopolise Seeds" can be accessed at

With best wishes,

Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
10400 Penang
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