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For-Profit Seeds Hurting Farmers, Biodiversity


SOURCE: Inter Press Service, Italy

AUTHOR: Haider Rizvi


DATE: 10.23.2009


Article Excerpt:
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 23 (IPS) - Large biotechnology firms are not only depriving poor farmers of inputs essential for their livelihoods, but are also pushing up food prices, according to a new U.N. report.

”Excessive protection of intellectual property rights in agriculture is an obstacle rather than an incentive for innovation,” says Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, who authored the report released Tuesday.

In ”Seed Policies and the Right to Food”, presented to the General Assembly body tasked with discussing human rights issues, De Schutter pointed out that the world’s proprietary seed trade is dominated by a mere 10 companies.

There are currently two ways for farmers to access seeds - storing them from one year to the next and exchanging them locally, or depending on commercial systems that market ”improved seeds” certified by regulatory authorities.

The traditional seed system, according to the report, is rapidly deteriorating due to neglect of agricultural policies. The commercial system, on the other hand, is flourishing as a result of globalisation and the strengthening of intellectual property laws by institutions like the World Trade Organisation.

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