Saturday, 22 November 2014

Farmers reject proposed Seed Amendment Bill 2014

Sustainable Agriculture Action Group (SAAG) strongly opposes the process that federal government followed to approve the proposed Seed Amendment Bill 2014 and Plant Breeders' Rights Act. In a press conference held here on Friday, representatives from farmers' network and civil society argued against certain provisions of the amendment bill 2014 particularly those related to seed breeding.

Dr Shahida Zia, a representative from Sustainable Agriculture Action Group (SAAG) demanded open, effective and larger consultations involving small farmers, civil society, experts on international law and representatives of national institutions. The proposed Seed Amendment Bill 2014 was tabled in the National Assembly on August 8, 2014 introduced by Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Bosan. According to the minister "the amendment to the Seed Act 1976 was required as the act in its present form does not fulfil the requirement of modern seed industry." Dr Shahida said, "according to the proposed bill, no unregistered person (that will include farmers) or institution will be allowed to stock, sell or barter or otherwise supply any seeds without official permission and the sale of unauthorised hybrid and semi-hybrid seeds will be banned. It will be a punishable crime with prescribed fines and imprisonment."

"This bill if passed allows the multinational corporations to produce basic seed for its multiplication and certification, and also set up accredited seed testing laboratories. It allows them to register GM varieties with some conditions but has no damage clause included, if the GM varieties found damaging for human health and environment", he added. Nasir Aziz from ActionAid Pakistan said, "The draft seed act is a prime example of obedience of our governments, federal and provincial, to rich countries and their transnational corporations. In this case, the dictation of agro-chemical corporations such as Monsanto, Pioneer, and Syngenta is responsible for the draft Seed Act 2014."

Wali Haider from SAAG said, the proposed amended seed bill, which is in compliance with TRIPs, guarantees the private sector taking control over the livelihood of small farmers and is one of the most anti-farmer international law in third world countries such as Pakistan. Such a disastrous step will certainly worsen food insecurity in Pakistan.-PR
Copyright Business Recorder, 2014

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