Why Benin should not Join UPOV

21 June 2023 by Collective , ATTAC/CADTM Morocco , CADTM Afrique


Social movements call on Benin to reconsider membership in UPOV, urging protection of local seed systems and food sovereignty



[Cotonou, Benin] – On June 1, 2023, a coalition of diverse organizations, including farmers’ organizations, women’s organizations, trade activists, and consumer groups, expressed their deep concern regarding Benin’s potential membership in the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). In a joint statement, the undersigned organizations highlight the potential threats to local seed systems, biodiversity, and food sovereignty if Benin were to join UPOV.

UPOV is an intergovernmental organization that promotes a global system of plant breeders’ rights, granting monopoly rights to breeders over their developed varieties. While UPOV claims that its members benefit from access to quality and productive seeds, the coalition argues that the negative consequences outweigh any potential advantages.

As part of the West African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI), Benin is already indirectly connected to UPOV through its membership. Therefore, the coalition emphasizes the redundancy and risks associated with Benin’s membership in UPOV. The direct membership would expose the country to direct pressure from global seed industry leaders, primarily controlled by four agrochemical giants: Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, and Corteva. The coalition warns that this move could prioritize the interests of these industry giants at the expense of African food sovereignty.

Furthermore, the undersigned organizations stress the adverse impact of UPOV on small farmers and local seed systems. UPOV favors industrial seeds over small farmers’ seeds, leading to a loss of biodiversity and undermining sustainable approaches to food production. The experience in other African countries, such as Kenya, has shown that UPOV incentivizes breeding for export crops while foreign companies benefit more than domestic breeders. Industrial seeds are associated with monoculture Monoculture When one crop alone is cultivated. Many countries of the South have been induced to specialize in the production of a commodity for export (cotton, coffee, cocoa, groundnuts, tobacco, etc.) to procure hard currency for debt repayments. farming, requiring extensive irrigation, synthetic inputs, and technology packages that deplete soils and harm the environment.

In light of these concerns, the coalition calls upon all stakeholders in Africa to reevaluate the best strategies for seed systems that prioritize the needs of local communities. Specifically, they urge the government of Benin to withdraw its proposal to join UPOV and engage in a thorough review, in collaboration with peasant organizations and civil society, to determine the best path forward.
Instead, the organizations advocate for the promotion of agroecology and the use of local and indigenous seeds that are well-adapted to local conditions. These seeds contribute to the sustainability of agriculture in Benin and across Africa while safeguarding food sovereignty and peasants’ rights over seeds.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL STATEMENT HERE

For more information, please contact:

Frances Davies, Policy Advocacy and Communications, ZAAB, network(at)zambianagroecology.org
Famara Diédhiou, Program officer, AFSA, famara.diedhiou at afsafrica.org
Susan Nakacwa, GRAIN, susan(at)grain.org
Mr Patrice Sagbo, JINUKUN, psagbo(at)yahoo.fr

The undersigned organizations include:

Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)
African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB)
APBREBES
ADeD: Actions pour le Développement Durable
Association Nodde Nooto (A2N) du Niger
African Technology Assessment Platform (AfriTAP)
Agro Espoir Afrique SARL
Agro-Care Consulting (Cameroun)
ANA-BIO Togo
A Growing Culture
Acción Ecológica
Asociacion Nacional para el Fomento de la Agruclutra Ecologica ANAFAE
Association Sénégalaise des Producteurs de Semences Paysannes (ASPSP)
Association des agriculteurs sans frontières AASF
Association Tunisienne de Permaculture
ATODAD-Togo
Attac/Cadtm Maroc
AVRD Tchad
BARAGNINI
Batamar Bio BITÈYE Sénégal
BEELA Center for Indigenous Foods
Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya (BIBA-K)
Botswana Council of NGOs (BOCONGO)
Centre d’études et d’expérimentations économiques et sociales de l’Afrique de l’Ouest - Association Internationale (CESAO-AI)
Centre de Formation et d’Insertion des Jeunes du Togo (CFIJ-TOGO)
Centre International de Développement AP Agropastoral CIDAP.BAGA TOGO.
CEVAD
CEVASTE
Civil Society Agrarian Partnership (CSAP)
CNOP / LVC AOC
COASP
Commons for EcoJustice (EcoJustice)
Community Alliance for Global Justice/AGRA Watch
Congo Basin Conservation Society CBCS RDC
Coordination Afrique du réseau CADTM
COPAGEN
COPAGEN Mali
COPAGEN NIGER
CREDI ONG
Eco-impact
ECOLOFEMME RDC
Emmaus TOHOUE
ERA/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria ( ERA/FoEN)
FAEB
FAPD-Sénégal
Farmer Managed Seeds Systems -(EOAI)
FCPEEP RDC-ACB
FENAB SENEGAL
FENEV (Femmes Environnement Nature Entrepreunariat Vert/RD Congo)
FIAN Burkina Faso
FIAN Suisse
FIAN Uganda
FIAN Zambia
Gabon Environnement
GRABE BÉNIN
GRAIN
Grassroots International
Groupe d’Actions pour une Agriculture et un Environnement Durables (GAAED) HEKS/EPER, Entraide Protestante Suisse
IFOAM-OI
IRPAD/Afrique (Mali)
Jeunes volontaires pour l’environnement Côte d’Ivoire
JINUKUN
Justiça Ambiental - JA! (Mozambique)
LDCB : Ligue pour la Défense des Consommateurs du Bénin
Les Jardins d’Hambe
Les Jardins de l’espoir
Malaysian Food Sovereignty Forum (FKMM)
Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania - MVIWATA
National Alliance for Agroecology, Climate change and Environmental Sustainability the Gambia
Nature Tropicale ONG (NTONG)
Network Siyada
ONG Debora
ONG Muyissi Environnement pour la défense des droits des communautés locales (Gabon)
Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM ) Association
RADD
RAAD PLUS
Réseau National des Acteurs de l’Agroécologie du Togo (RéNAAT)
Resources Oriented Development Initiatives KENYA (RODI Kenya)
RNDDH -NIGER
Seed Savers Network Kenya
SeedChange
Société Civile environnementale et Agro Rurale du Congo SOCEARUCO RDC
SWISSAID
Synergie Nationale des Paysans et Riverains du Cameroun (SYNAPARCAM)
Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO)
Third World Network (TWN)
Trax Program Support Ghana (Trax Ghana)
Une lumière dans la Rue (ULDLR)
Youth in Agroecology and Restoration Network
Youth Volunteers for the Environment Ghana
Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity (ZAAB)
ZIMSOFF LVC


Source : AFSA

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