ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Seed Sovereignty

Parameswaran Prajeesh’s “Farmers’ Rights to Seeds, Issues in the Indian Law” (EPW, 21 March 2015) repeatedly referred to the law, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR)Act, 2001 as a “progressive” legislation. The term progressive can be misleading, particularly in the areas of intellectual property (IP) and legal rights. This Indian version of the plant variety protection (PVP) model is considered by some as more farmer-friendly, since it regards farmers as breeders unlike its European counterpart. But it grants IP on seed nonetheless and in doing so privatises it.

The international peasant movement   La Via Campesina, which is totally against IP on seed has moved to the next step from rights to responsibilities. Rights, particularly those defined by IP law, are no longer seen by this movement as meaningful support for the seed they want to plant or the customary seed-sharing they want to keep alive. They have progressed to the idea of seed sovereignty. Legal systems are yet to follow. In the United States, the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) launched in April 2014 is a non-IP rights plant licensing system that seeks to prevent seed from being “protected” by such mainstream PVP laws.

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