Seed Laws That Criminalise Farmers: Resistance and Fightback


Seed laws that criminalise farmers: Resistance and fightback

La Via Campesina
March 2015
Seed laws booklet EN COVER
Seed laws that criminalise farmers: Resistance and Fightback

A recently published paper from the international farmers groups La Via Campesina and GRAIN documents how big business and governments are moving to stop farmers from saving and exchanging their seeds, and shows how farmers are fighting back.

The paper surveys how seed laws have evolved to make farmers’ seeds illegal in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe:

“The displacement of peasant seeds is a process that has been gaining ground and speed around the world over the past decades. In the 20th century, when plant breeding and seed production became activities separate from farming itself, peasant varieties were gradually replaced by industrial varieties. In Europe and North America, this happened over several decades, spurred by new technologies such as the development of hybrids. In Asia, Africa and Latin America, it took off after the 1960s, when so-called development programmes pushed ‘high-yielding’ crops and the use of chemical inputs (the so-called Green Revolution). In the last 20 years, we have been witnessing a new situation in which an aggressive wave of seed laws is being unleashed, often in the name of liberalising trade, with the purpose of stopping nearly all activities carried out by farmers with their seeds.”

And reports on actions by farmers to restore agricultural diversity in the face of tremendous pressure to force them into monoculture:

“Around the world, communities and grassroots organisations understand that the best way to defend seeds – and to defend the practices of using and sharing that keep seeds alive – is to continue to grow them, look after them, and exchange them, in every locality. Keeping farming systems alive is the best way to keep seeds alive. Crop varieties thrive if we grow them and prepare foods with them, keeping them present in our festivals, our markets, and our social interactions. That is just what is being done by the countless groups that are organising seed fairs and food festivals, as well as seed exchanges and community seed breeding processes, and by the groups that are struggling to protect, or to reactivate, local markets.”

Essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the relationship between agricultural policy and human rights.

Read the complete paper at La Via Campesina.