Nelly Bassily | June 15, 2009
Since the beginning of agriculture, farmers have saved seeds. When the harvest is complete, a portion of maize, beans, or other crops is set aside. When the next planting season comes, these reserved seeds are ready to be sown.
This age-old practice was affirmed by a recent amendment to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The treaty is an agreement among countries to share genetic resources in order to promote food security. The new amendment encourages countries to remove any barriers to farmers saving, exchanging, or selling seeds.
The resolution also calls on governments to fully involve farmers in the implementation of the treaty.
Wilhelmina Pelegrina is Executive Director of the civil society organization SEARICE. SEARICE advocates for farmers’ rights and followed the negotiations closely. Ms. Pelegrina says the resolution is a “sizeable step forward” in the struggle to have farmers’ rights recognized at the UN level.
The full text of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture can be found here: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/011/i0510e/i0510e.pdf. Note that Article 9 pertains to farmers’ rights.