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"You Are Destroying the Treaty
on Plant Genetic Resources

"... we will continue to create our own multilateral system
for exchange between peasants"

by Farmer and Gardener organizations
around the world: see list below

Rome, Italy

Photo courtesy La Via Campesina.
Photo courtesy La Via Campesina.

September 25, 2015 -- To member governments of the governing body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources Meeting in Rome 5-9 October 2015

We want to tell you that you are in the process of destroying the treaty. It is organising the theft of our seeds and our knowledge. We can no longer continue to give them to researchers and other prospectors that come and collect them in our fields, to then put them in the Treaty’s gene banks. As long as you do not ban all bio-pirated patents, as long as farmers do not have a right to keep, use, exchange and sell seeds from their own harvests then we will not collaborate with research and gene banks that serve the multinational seed companies.

The grains kept in genetic resource banks run by the multilateral system of the Treaty on Plants (IT PGRFA) belong to us: they are our inheritance from many centuries of peasant selection, and they have been collected in our fields.

However we are often refused access to peasant variety seeds because we are not researchers. Sometimes we obtain some grains on the condition that we do not use them for agricultural production: they can only be used for research purposes. We have stated that their conservation in cold chambers is not appropriate and that they need several years of new selection before the harvests can be donated in the current growing conditions. However those of us who undertake the collection the genetic resources are forbidden by laws created by seed companies in the majority of member countries of the treaty to exchange or sell them to other peasants.

The treaty promised equitable sharing of the profit created in industry using our seeds for their own selections. After 10 years we have not seen this, rather a shift in the opposite direction. Peasants have given seeds to industry; industry never paid for them, and the little money that governments donated has not been given to peasant organisations, but has consolidated international industry’s research programmes. We gave our seeds free of charge to the seed banks, and we accept that industry uses the useful varieties. But when we use these varieties laws in the majority of signatory countries require us to pay royalties, or forbid us to use the seeds that have come from our own harvests, asserting that they are now property of industry.

We inherited our seeds from our parents, we have looked after them carefully, selected and conserved them for future generations. We have given them to the treaty along with our knowledge, as we have always been proud to share the results of our work. We thought that we were protected against their being appropriated by industry property laws, such as plant breeders’ laws and patents. But now you say that you are going to launch the Divseek programme, to dissect the genetic sequences of the resources in the gene bank so as to publish them in electronic databases. This programme was not created for us, we do not grow genetic sequences, or megabytes, and we do not need this information. But industry created the search engines and software to process all of the ‘genetic information’ in their database, for it to be patented and associated with some favourable characteristic, useful for agriculture, or the industrial processing of harvests. These patents on the ‘functional units of heredity’ are already legal in many countries and they prevent us from growing our seeds, the very seeds that we gave free of charge to the treaty seed banks.

We had a period of dialogue with the treaty. But despite the governing body’s decision in Bali in 2011 and in Oman in 2013, spaces for dialogue closed up, preventing us from participating in an efficient manner and formalising working groups with expert consultants, respecting our organisational autonomy. Peasant organisations that are working in their fields to implement article 5 and 6 of the Treaty on in situ conservation and the sustainable use of seeds and those that fight for the implementation of article 9 on the rights of farmers are always considered as ‘observers’, with the same statute as academics or journalists, but there are the main actors and on the front line of managing the very genetic plant resources that the Treaty defends! Yet Industry is courted and imposes its own solutions.

As long as the Treaty is not reformed to fully apply articles 5, 6 and 9, we will continue to create our own multilateral system for exchange between peasants. We are calling on governments to support out movement, based on the principles of food sovereignty.

To sign or support the appeal, please send us back the name of your organization:

- October 2, 2015.

(see updated list of signatories here)

1. African Centre for Biodiversity, Afrique du Sud et Tanzanie

2. AJAC LUKAAL, l'Association des Jeunes Agriculteurs de Casamance "Plantons", Sénégal

3. All Nepal Peasants’ Federation ( toutes les fédérations paysannes népalaises)

4. ANAFAE, Asociación Nacional de Fomento a la Agricultura Ecológica, Honduras

5. ANAMURI, Asociación Nacional l de Mujeres Rurales e Indígenas, Chili

6. ANMI, Asamblea Nacional de Mapuches de Izquierda, Chili

7. ARI, Associazione Rurale Italiana, Italie

8. Articulação Rosalino de Povos e Comunidades Tradicionais do Norte de Minas, Brésil

9. Association des Producteurs de Semences Paysannes, Sénégal

10. Australian Food Sovereignty, Australie

11. BEDE ( Biodiversité : Echanges et Diffusion d'Expériences ), France

12. Bio Burkina Faso, Burkina Faso.

13. Biowatch Afrique du Sud.

14. Campaña Semillas de Identidad, Colombie.

15. CCPA, Cadre de Concertation des Producteurs d'Arachides du Sénégal.

16. CENESTA,Centre for Sustainable Development and Environment, Iran

17. COASP, Comité ouest africain des Semences Paysannes et l’ensemble de ses membres.

18. CODECEX, Comissão em Defesa dos Direitos das Comunidades Extrativistas, Brésil

19. Commons for EcoJustice, Malawi

20. CONAMURI, Cordinacion nacional de Mujeres rurales e indigenas, Paraguay.

21. CONAPROCH, Confederación Nacional de Pequeños Productores, Chili

22. Confédération Paysanne, France

23. COPACO-PRP, Confédération Paysanne du Congo, République Démocratique du Congo

24. Copagen, Coalition Ouest Africaine pour les Semences paysannes, Sénégal

25. Crocevia, Italie

26. Deccan Development Society, Pastapur, Telangana, Inde

27. ECVC, Coordination européenne Via Campesina

28. Fahamu Africa et le mouvement des femmes “ Nous sommes la solution”, Afrique del’Ouest

29. Family Farm Defenders, USA

30. Farmworker Association of Florida, USA.

31. Ferme école Agroécologique Benkadibugu, Mali

32. FITA, Farmers inter trade association, Gambie

33. FOOL AVOINE, pour une biodiversité sans OGM ni brevet, France

34. GIPA (Groupement Inter villageois des Producteurs d'Arachides des Communes de
Thiomby/Gandiaye), membre CCPA, Sénégal

35. International Indian Treaty Council (Conseil international du traité indien, ajoutant çi la mention des peuples et semences indigènes)

36. Grupo Semillas, Colombie

37. Jardín Botánico de Medellín, Equipo de Agricultura Urbana, Colombie

38. La Via Campesina International

39. Landworkers' Alliance , Royaume-Uni

40. MAB, Movimiento de Afectados por Reprezas, Brésil

41. MABD, Mouvement de l’Agriculture Biodynamique, France

42. MAELA, Movimiento Agroecologico de Latino America y Caribe, Mouvement agroécologique de l'Amérique latine et les Caraïbes

43. MMC, Movimiento de Mujeres Camponesas, Brésil

44. Millet Network of India, MINI, Hyderabad, India

45. MONLAR, Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform, Sri Lanka

46. Movimento Geraizeiro, Brésil

47. MPA, Movimento dos pequenos agricultores, Brésil

48. MST, Movimiento Sim Tierra, Brésil

49. National Fishworkers' Forum, Forum national des pêcheurs, Inde.

50. National Movement for Protection of Seed Rights, Sri Lanka.

51. Organización Boricuá, Porto Rico

52. Ranquil, Confederación Nacional Campesina y de Pueblos originarios, Chili

53. RECAB ANTIOQUIA, red Colombiana de Agricultura Biológica, Colombie

54. Red Nacional de Semillas Nativas y Criollas (réseau national des semences natives et créoles), Uruguay

55. Red de Semillas Campesinas, Argentine

56. Rede de Agrobiodiversidade do Semiárido Mineiro, Brésil

57. Redes de semillas campesinas (RSC), Columbie

58. Red de Semillas Libres, Colombie

59. Red de Semillas "Resembrando e Intercambiando", Espagne

60. RESACIFROAT, Réseau d'Appui à la Citoyenneté des Femmes Rurales d'Afrique de l'Ouest et du Tchad

61. Réseau Maghrébin d'Association de Développement Local en milieu Rural, "REMADEL"

62. Réseau Semences Paysannes (RSP), France

63. Rete Semi Rurali, Italie

64. SEED, Som fir d'Erhalen an d' Entwécklung vun der Diversitéit, Luxembourg

65. Stop OGM Pacifique, Nouvelle Calédonie

66. TORBA, association d'agroécologie, Algérie

67. Union Paysanne, Canada.

68. Urgenci International Community Supported Agriculture network

69. US Food Sovereignty Alliance, USA

70. Vazanteiros em Movimento, Brésil

71. World Forum of Fisher Peoples

72. Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum, Zimbabwe.


1. AFRD - EUFRAS, Association for Farmers Rights Defense, Association pour la Défense des droits des Paysans, Georgie

2. ADAAE-ASE, France

3. AHCC, Alianza Hondureña de Cambio Climático, Honduras

4. Alkhalachofa, grupo de consumo responsable, Alcala de Henares, Espagne

5. ALTERRATIVE project, Italie

6. Amigos de la Tierra, Argentine

7. Articulação Nacional de Agroecologia -- ANA/Brésil

8. Assembleia Permanente de Entidades em Defesa do Meio Ambiente do Rio Grande do Sul- APEDEMA/Brésil

9. Associação Brasileira de Agroecologia-ABA/Brésil

10. Associação Brasileira de Estudantes de Engenharia Florestal-ABEEF/Brésil

11. Associação Gaúcha de proteção ao Ambiente Natural-AGAPAN/Brésil

12. Association pour le Développement Durable "ADD- Medenine", Tunisie

13. Association pour le Développement Global des Batwa, Rwanda

14. ATALC, Amigos de la Tierra América Latina y el Caribe

15. Burkinature, Burkina Faso

16. CEHPRODEC, Centro Hondureño de Promoción al Desarrollo Comunitario, Honduras

17. CEIBA-Amigos de la Tierra Guatemala

18. CENSAT-Amigos de la Tierra, Colombie

19. CESTA-Amigos de la Tierra, Salvador

20. Centro Ecológico/Brésil

21. Chile Sustentable, Chili

22. CMI, Conselho Missionário Indigenista, Brésil

23. COECOCEIBA-Amigos de la Tierra, Costa Rica

24. Comissão Pastoral da Terra-CPT/Brésil

25. Community Alliance for Global Justice, Seattle WA, USA

26. CONROA, Coalición nacional de Redes y organizaciones Ambientales, Honduras

27. Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, USA

28. Diverse Voices and Action for Equality, Fiji

29. Doman chalosse vivante, France.

30. Enda Pronat, Sénégal


32. Esvit-ONG, Espoir et vie pour Tous, République Démocratique du Congo

33. Federação de Órgãos para Assistência Social e Educacional- FASE/Brésil

34. Federação dos Estudantes de Agronomia do Brasil-FEAB/Brésil

35. FIAN, Colombie

36. FIMARC,Fédération Internationale des Mouvements d'Adultes Ruraux Catholiques

37. Food First, USA

38. Foodwatch Western Australia

39. Foro Ambiental Santiagueño, Argentine

40. Friends of the Earth International

41. Fundação Luterana de Diaconia – FLD/Brésil

42. Gene Ethics, Australie

43. GM-Free Australia Alliance, Australie

44. Instituto Gaúcho de Estudos Ambientais – Ingá/ Brésil

45. IRPAD/Afrique, Institut de Recherche et de Promotion des Alternatives en Développement, siège Mali.

46. JINUKUN : Réseau national pour une gestion durable des ressources génétiques, Point focal de la COPAGEN, Bénin

47. MADGE, Australie

48. MADRE TIERRA-Amigos de la Tierra, Honduras

49. Núcleo de Cultura e Extensão PTECA da ESALQ/Universidade de São Paulo- Brésil

50. NAT-Amigos de la Tierra, Brésil

51. Núcleo Interdisciplinar de Agroecologia em Rede/Agrorede-UFBA/Brésil

52. OTROS MUNDOS-Chiapas/Amigos de la Tierra, Mexique

53. Pacific Partnerships on Gender, Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Coalition régionale Pacifique

54. REDES-Amigos de la Tierra, Uruguay

55. SOBREVIVENCIA-Amigos de la Tierra, Paraguay

56. Sociedade Brasileira de Etnobiologia e Etnoecologia – SBEE/Brésil

57. SOLIDARITÉ, France

58. Southern Action on Genetic Engineering, Hyderabad, Inde

59. Terra de Direitos/Brasil

60. Terra Nuova ONLUS, Italie

61. UK Food Group, Royaume-Uni

62. Vía Orgánica, Mexique

63. Voices for Earth Justice, USA

64. Watershed Systems Foundation, Asie-Océanie

Published in In Motion Magazine October 10, 2015