The UPOV Act of 1991 has dramatically curtailed farmers’ rights to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed and other propagating material.
In his report “Seed policies and the right to food: enhancing agrobiodiversity and encouraging innovation” the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, demonstrates how plant variety protection (PVP) rights endanger informal seed systems and consequently food security and biodiversity. In line with other expert views he recommends that every country develop its own system for seed protection based on its specific needs and provide for strengthening of farmers’ rights and biodiversity.
Today it is widely acknowledged that the current system of UPOV 91, the adoption of which is often imposed by OECD countries onto developing countries through bi- or multilateral trade and investment agreements, does not protect farmers’ rights or take into account the needs and interests of most developing countries. This is not surprising since UPOV is an IP concept of the industrialized countries and the seed industry. The negotiations on the 1991 UPOV Act were held by industrialised countries; South Africa was the only Southern negotiator. The situation and needs of the global South were not taken into account. In addition, the seed industry has been by far the most present and active stakeholder, with a major influence in the negotiations.
Consequently, a variety protection system was created for the benefit of the seed industry and industrialised agricultures of the rich nations. APBREBES' mission is to closely monitor the future development of UPOV and to point out where agricultural biodivesity, food sovereignty, and other interests of the farming communities are neglected. We therefore report on the outcomes of the UPOV meetings. To increase transparency, we publish on our Website «Restricted Area» Documents which are not made publicly available by UPOV.