[A2k] UPOV to decide on farmers ¹ and civil society participation in its sessions

Sangeeta ssangeeta at myjaring.net
Mon Oct 18 11:59:22 PDT 2010

News Release
13 October 2010
by European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) &
Association for Plant Breeding for the Benefit of Society (APBREBES)
UPOV to decide on farmers¹ and civil society participation in its sessions
The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV)
will decide next week if it will open its doors to farmers and civil society
organizations that work in the interest of peasants, small and medium scale
farmers and the broader public.
UPOV is an intergovernmental organization headquartered in Geneva
(Switzerland) where international rules on plant variety protection are
defined with major impacts for food sovereignty, biodiversity and farmers¹
When representatives of the 68 member countries of UPOV meet in Geneva from
19-21 October they will review the applications for observer status from the
Association for Plant Breeding for the Benefit of Society (APBREBES) and the
European Coordination of Via Campesina (ECVC).
In October 2009, UPOV rejected a first application by APBREBES and ECVC for
observer status in UPOV¹s bodies[1] <#_ftn1> .
However APBREBES and ECVC are more optimistic now due to increased support.
In an open letter addressed to Mr. Francis Gurry, Secretary General of UPOV;
Mr. Rolf Jördens, Vice-Secretary General of UPOV; and to Member States of
UPOV, more than 80 farmer and other non-governmental organizations supported
APBREBES and ECVC¹s application for observer status.[2] <#_ftn2>
The Norwegian minister for Agriculture and Food, Lars Peder Brekk also
points out in a letter of support that ³a well balanced group of observers,
representing all relevant stakeholders, would be supportive for the work of
UPOV. Today, farmers¹ groups and organisations with knowledge and experience
on agricultural biodiversity and food security are not adequately
represented. The accreditation of APBREBES and ECVC would therefore be an
important step to enable the Organisation to cope with future challenges.²
In a letter to UPOV, Manfred Bötsch, the Director of the Swiss Federal
Office for Agriculture (FOAG) also supports the request of ECVC as well as
APBREBES for observer status at UPOV. The letter states: The experience and
competence of these international non-governmental organisations fall within
the scope regulated by the UPOV-agreement. We are convinced that through the
involvement of these stakeholders the concerns of UPOV will receive broader
support and thus a larger outreach. The challenges of the future require a
constructive involvement of all stakeholders. (Translated by APBREBES)
³Applications of APBREBES and ECVC must be accepted if UPOV is to be
recognized as being inclusive, taking into account the interest of farmers
and the broader public. The status quo wherein UPOV favors and prefers to
largely involve right-holders, private seed companies, and their
representatives in its decision making processes is not acceptable. To be
seen as a credible intergovernmental organisation UPOV must facilitate and
allow representation of a variety of views in the Organization¹s
discussions. Such a practice is consistent with the present global trend of
more inclusive participation of civil society in multilateral
intergovernmental fora.² -- Francois Meienberg, Berne Declaration, a
founding member of APBREBES
³Farmers are the main users of seeds protected through the intellectual
property rights-based system of UPOV. It is unreasonable to exclude farmers
from the process when such rights are discussed. They have the right to be
informed and to observe what happens in UPOV.² -- Josie Riffaud, Head of
biodiversity, seeds and environment in ECVC, which represents 24 farmer
organizations in 16 European countries and around 200 000 producers.
³Last year, the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
documented the possible adverse impact of plant variety protection laws on
the lives of farmers and on food sovereignty. Thus the impact of UPOV on
food sovereignty and on management of genetic resources is among our reasons
for seeking broader participation in UPOV.  Member organizations of APBREBES
closely follow negotiations related to genetic resources on-going in the UN
Convention on Biological Diversity and the FAO treaty on plant genetic
resources for food and agriculture. Thus APBREBES¹ participation in UPOV
could contribute to better coherence and coordination among different
relevant inter-governmental fora.² --Bell Batta Torheim, from Development
Fund, another member of APBREBES.
³We believe that UPOV delegates meeting next week will understand the added
value we will bring into the work of UPOV.  Additionally, the present trend
is for increased transparency and participation in intergovernmental
organizations such as seen in the World Intellectual Property Organisation.
Thus it would be inappropriate for UPOV to refuse observer status to farmer
and civil organisation organizations that have competence over matters
related to UPOV.² -- Sangeeta Shashikant from Third World Network, a member
Additional Information-
ECVC is a member of Via Campesina, the biggest international movement of
peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, rural women,
indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers. ECVC is composed of
24 farmers and agricultural workers¹ unions from across Europe.
APBREBES is founded by organizations working on plant breeding and issues
related to UPOV regulations. APBREBES is made up of the following
organizations: Berne Declaration (Switzerland); Center for International
Environmental Law (USA); Community Technology Development Trust (Zimbabwe);
Development Fund (Norway); Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and
Development (Nepal); Searice - The Southeast Asia Regional Initiative for
Community Empowerment (Philippines); and Third World Network (Malaysia).
For further enquiries contact:
Josie Riffaud
Member of ECVC¹s Coordination Committee
Tel: +
François Meienberg
Berne Declaration (APBREBES)
Tel: +41 79 796 76 12
email: food at evb.ch <mailto:food at evb.ch>
Bell Batta Torheim
Development   Fund (APBREBES)
Mobile: +47 41 1234 04
email: bell at utviklingsfondet.no <mailto:bell at utviklingsfondet.no>
Sangeeta Shashikant
Third World Network (APBREBES)
Mobile: +41 78 757 2331
Email: sangeeta at thirdworldnetwork.net
<mailto:sangeeta at thirdworldnetwork.net>

[1] <#_ftnref1>  See http://www.evb.ch/en/p25016720.html

[2] <#_ftnref2>  See


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