What is UPOV’91 – Bill C-18?

The Southwest Booster - - OPINION -

To the edi­tor: What is UPOV’91 – Bill C-18? The Agri­cul­tural Growth Act is an om­nibus bill in­tro­duced on De­cem­ber 9, 2013. Om­nibus bills amend many pieces of leg­is­la­tion at once, of­ten on un­re­lated mat­ters. Om­nibus bills make it im­pos­si­ble to fully ex­am­ine each pro­posed change. Un­der C18, Plant Breed­ers Rights (PBR) ap­ply to newly bred va­ri­eties that are es­sen­tially de­rived from PBRpro­tected va­ri­eties, al­low­ing plant breed­ers to ex­er­cise con­trol over the re­sults of fu- ture plant breed­ing.

Bill C18 al­lows for col­lec­tion of end-point roy­al­ties (EPR) if roy­al­ties are not first col­lected on seed. An EPR sys­tem would re­quire com­pul­sory pay­ments by farm­ers to the plant breeder upon sale of a crop grown from a PBR-pro­tected va­ri­ety. The main ben­e­fi­cia­ries of C-18 would thus be pri­vate breed­ers, in­clud­ing the large com­pa­nies that dom­i­nate the global seed in­dus­try: Mon­santo, DuPont, Pioneer, Syn­genta, Lima­grain, Land O Lakes, KWS, Bayer Crops­cience, and Dow AgroScienc­es. Farm­ers would be at the mercy of these Multi­na­tion­als.

With this in­for­ma­tion, at the Fe­bru­ary 2014 SARM An­nual Con­ven­tion del­e­gates voted strongly in favour of the fol­low­ing:

Res­o­lu­tion No 12 – 14A, RM of Emerald No 277 – UPOV’91

“WHEREAS adop­tion of UPOV’91 will re­duce the free­dom and rights of Cana­dian farm­ers, in­crease pro­duc­tion costs, lower in­come mar­gins and hurt farmer in­de­pen­dence; BE IT RE­SOLVED that SARM lobby the Provin­cial Govern­ment to use their in­flu­ence with the Fed­eral Govern­ment to re­move this sec­tion from the Agri­cul­ture Growth Act.

Yet, on April 23 SARM sent out a let­ter to all reeves, coun­cilors and ad­min­is­tra­tors that con­tained a state­ment from Saskatchew­an Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture pro­mot­ing UPOV’91.

If Bill C-18 passes there will be neg­a­tive con­se­quences for farm­ers re­gard­less of how they ob­tain their seed. C-18 would re­sult in in­creased seed costs due to higher roy­al­ties on more va­ri­eties. Seed com­pa­nies could/would dereg­is­ter va­ri­eties cur­rently in the pub­lic do­main (roy­alty-free seed), re­duc­ing farm­ers’ choice of seed and push­ing them to use more ex­pen­sive seed pro­tected by Plant Breed­ers’ Rights.

So, who calls the shots at SARM, del­e­gates or the Sask. Party?

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