Arusha PVP Protocol Click here: FINAL_ARIPO_PVP_PROTOCOL_6_07_2015_no bold_new cover
USAID continues its efforts to deceive Ghanaians, Nigerians, and the citizens of all the developing world with its attempts to persuade people that genetically engineered crops are safe. The health effects of genetically engineered (GE) crops, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), are questionable, their nutritional value is questionable, future and generational effects are unknown, and the toxic chemicals that 99% of commercial GE crops require poison us all.
USAID is offering a workshop: “International Biosafety Short Course for Policy and Decision Makers in Ghana and Nigeria” (http://www.nepadbiosafety.
USAID does not want you to know about their efforts. They want to make this look like just another bland academic seminar, pretending they are just here to help. Instead the workshop is a ruthless effort to convince Ghanaian officials to evade and ignore the biosafetyintention of Ghanaian law and the letter of the law itself. GMO interests want to get their agenda in place fast, locked into Ghanaian law, before the Ghanaian people catch on. USAID is acting as lobbyist for Monsanto and its friends in the Agro Chemical industry. USAID is attempting to force Ghanaian farmers and Ghanaian agriculture under the control of foreign corporations. They are doing this with flagrant disregard for the Precautionary Principle enshrined in the Cartagena Biosafety Protocols.
USAID promotes Substantial Equivalence, SE, established in 1992, to evaluate the risk of GE crops. The concept of Substantial Equivalence was created to obscure potential risk from GE crops.Created by Monsanto, Substantial Equivalence claims the GMOs, genetically engineered crops are the substantial equivalent of conventional crops. All testing is left up to the industry. In the US the Agribusiness industry, personified by Monsanto, decide what tests they do and what they report. Managers move back and forth between jobs with the Agribusiness industry and government regulatory positions, mixing conflict of interest into the standard operating procedure. The massive conflict of interest embodied in Substantial Equivalence can be summed up in these two statements:
“Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety”.
– FDA, Statement of Policy Foods derived from New Plant Varieties, 29 May 1992
“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job”.
– Phillip Angell: Monsanto Director of Corporate Communications: (Pollan: NY Times Magazine 25 Oct. 1998) (1)
“Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta—now control 53 percent of the global commercial seed market. 86% of corn, 88% of cotton, and 93% of soybeans farmed in the U.S. are now genetically-engineered (GE) varieties, making the option of farming non-GE crops increasingly difficult (Centre for Food Safety CFS) Report 201379)” (1)
“The advent of GM crops has become the gateway to controlling seed germplasm, and it is threatening the genetic diversity of crops. … Conventional seeds have been shown to improve yields by as much as 30 percent as compared to Monsanto’s drought tolerant seeds, which provide only about 5 to 6 percent increase.” (1) And that 5%-6% is only under optimum conditions.
GMO interests are looking to control seed supply in Ghana and the entire developing world as well. That is the reason for legal initiatives such as the Ghana Plant Breeders Bill and the ARIPO Arusha Protocol. It is the reason for the propaganda blitz misrepresented as biosafety education.
With its 1992 decision neither to test or regulate GMOs, the USDA moved from its traditional role of supporting and assisting farmers to its current role of supporting and assisting the Agribusiness industry, often against the interests of farmers. This left the safety of the US food supply entirely in the hands of Monsanto and friends. The conflict of interest is obvious and massive. US farmers and consumers endure the results. This is what USAID is trying to sell to Ghana and the developing world with its biosafety education workshops.
USAID is trying to push Substantial Equivalence as a “standard” across the developing world. This is a clear and glaringly obvious violation of the Precautionary Principle enshrined in the CPB to which Ghana is a signatory.
Another concept USAID is pushing in its biosafety workshops is GRAS, Generally Recognized As Safe. The FDA, the American Food and Drug Administration regulates food additives. Additives designated as GRAS, often by the industry that manufactures them, are exempted from the FDA food additive tolerance requirements.
This is another so-called standard that USAID is pushing on Ghana as part of its “biosafety education”.More than 99% of GE/GM crops are pesticide crops, either Bt (contain bacillus thuringiensis) or HT (herbicide tolerant). None are engineered for increased yields.
USAID biosafety “education” efforts train policy makers to ignore the Precautionary Principle, even though it is already part of Ghana’s law as a signatory to the CPB.
The massive national and global threat posed by GMOs makes applying the Precautionary Principle critical to any decision making regarding GE crops, GMOs.
Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes “The precautionary principle (PP) states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing severe harm to the public domain (affecting general health or the environment globally) the action should not be taken in the absence of scientific near-certainty about its safety. Under these conditions, the burden of proof about absence of harm falls on those proposing an action, not those opposing it.” The PP is intended to guard us against “unforeseen and unforeseeable events of extreme consequence where there is little current evidence or scientific knowledge.” (2)
Ruin is forever. “When the impact of harm extends to all future times, i.e. forever, then the harm is infinite … it cannot be balanced against any potential gains” (2)
The risk of GMOs is systemic, “widespread impact on the ecosystem and widespread impact on health … GMOs have the tendency to spread
uncontrollably and thus their risks cannot be localized.” (2)
It is this widespread systemic risk that USAID is promoting with their biosafety education workshops.
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
(1) Rodriguez, Aruna, 2015, The Fraud of GM Crops – The Scientific Evidence
Published with permission at: http://foodsovereigntyghana.
PDF link: http://foodsovereigntyghana.
Aruna Rodriguez is the lead petitioner Public Interest Writ (PIL) in the Supreme Court of India for a moratorium on GMOs.
(2) Taleb, N. N., Read, R., Douady, R., Bar-Yam, Y. 2014 The Precautionary Principle With Application To The Genetic Modification Of Organisms http://fooledbyrandomness.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, http://www.fooledbyrandomness.
Much reading of many documents by many people contributed to this article. The two sources listed above proved particularly valuable. Both contain very useful bibliographies.
The town of Kpando located in the middle of the Volta region was the scene of a historic occasion. At a durbar called by the Chiefs and people of Akpini State, members of Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) engaged a large audience gathered at the Palace of the Paramount Chief Togbe Dagadu VIII on the benefits of organic farming and the dangers associated with genetically modified organisms.
The engagement at the palace was the peak of a two day visit to the area by members of FSG. In collaboration with the Rastafarai Council, two free film shows were held on consecutive evenings to educate and engage the communities on the dangers and negative implications of genetically modified organism (GMOs) on human health and the environment.
On Thursday July 23 a clean-up exercise was held in the community in collaboration with the Municipal Authority. Speaking at the gathering the Municipal Chief Executive, Mrs. Delali Paulina Adinyirah thanked the Rastafarai Council for their proven record of supporting community development projects and exercises. She commended FSG for engaging the community and sharing the important information which she said could help Ghanaians make informed decisions on GMOs.
On Friday July 24th, there was a peaceful march which started from the stadium and proceeded through the principal streets of Kpando ending up at the palace.
In an appeal to the Paramount Chief Togbe Dagadu VIII, the secretary of FSG Elvis Kofi Adjei urged the people of the Akpini State to grow and eat organic food. He requested a parcel of land on which the organization could support the community to set up a model organic farm. He also drew the attention of the gathering to the clandestine nature in which the government was dealing with the issue of the attempts to impose GMOs into our food chain.
He cited the recently concluded meeting in Arusha Tanzania of the Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) as an example of a deliberate agenda to quietly change the seed laws in this country to the benefit of foreign companies and organizations without any consultation of the people of Ghana.
He warned that the recently signed ArushaPlant Variety Protocol if passed by Parliament would prevent farmers from saving and replanting seeds, eventually being forced to buy new seed each season from the seed industry monopoly that can set any price it wants.
In his statement through his linguist, the Chief urged the community to take up organic farming more seriously as this was the only way the integrity of the environment could be protected and sustained. The request for land was duly granted and the linguist reiterated the wish of the Chiefs and people of the Akpini State to grow what they eat and eat what they grow for optimum health. He attributed a lot of the diseases that are afflicting many individuals all over the nation to the change in diet from more nutritious traditional meals to western inspired dishes.
Communications Director of FSG, Mr. Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour thanked the Paramount Chief for his hospitality throughout the two day visit. He said FSG was inspired by the high moral position maintained by Togbe Dagadu VIII in line with the oaths he had sworn to protect the traditional culture, land and practices of their forebears and pledged the commitment of the organization to work with the community in protecting their agricultural systems and the environment.
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
The human rights division of the High Court in Accra was today scheduled to hear the case submitted by lead plaintiffs Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG). The case which sought to place an injunction on the commercialization and release of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in Ghana had to be adjourned till October 12th 2015 as the Judge, Kofi Essel Mensah was indisposed.
The Judicial Service usually goes on administrative break around this time of the year and so the clerk issued the date of October 12 as the next available time to meet after the annual break begins on August 3. This means that the temporary ban on the release and commercialization of GMO as sought by the injunction application remains effective till the court resumes in October.
Though the delay will affect the timely determination of the case due to its human rights dimension, FSG remains confident that the hold on the intended commercial release of the Bt cowpeas and Bt rice as announced earlier by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) serves the purpose of protecting the interests of Ghanaian farmer as well as the consumers and the environment.
FSG will continue to engage and involve Ghanaians and to resist all attempts at the imposition of GM products into our food chain without public awareness and participation in such a decision. We renew our pledge to continue to expose and challenge the GM industry-led lies and conflicts of interests behind the drive to impose GM products on Ghanaians. We feel greatly encouraged and profoundly grateful for the level of public interest and support so far. Above all, we remain confident that justice shall prevail.or Life, the Environment, and Social Justice
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
By Food Sovereignty Ghana
Field trials of GMO cotton, genetically modified Bt cotton, have been going on in three northern areas in Ghana, according to a news report published by the Graphic on Monday, 29 June 2015. With Ghana being a signatory to the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol, the very decision to approve the application for the so-called “confined” field trial of Bt. Cotton, ought to have involved public awareness and participation.
Article 23 of the Protocol requires Parties, on their own and in cooperation with other States and international bodies, to promote and facilitate public awareness and education, including access to information, regarding the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms (LMOs). It also requires Parties to consult the public in the decision-making process, to make public the final decision taken and to inform public about the means of access to the Biosafety Clearing-House.
In the absence of all these regarding the very application for a “confined field trial”, Food Sovereignty Ghana was astounded by the announcement that, “A scientist at the Yam and Cotton Breeding Programme of the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), Dr. Emmanuel Chamba, has confirmed that Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton trials in the three northern regions of the country have yielded positive results”!
Interestingly enough, from the very same article we gather that there is no market for cotton in Northern Ghana. Dr Emmanuel Chamba, claimed farmers are impatiently waiting for the GM cotton. But it is hard to imagine why they would ask for Bt cotton if they have no place to sell it, particularly if they have to pay higher prices for the seeds and the chemical inputs necessary for any GMO commercial crop.
A rather pathetic spin the SARI scientist put on the eagerness of the farmers to “embrace” the Bt cotton, also exposed the ineffectiveness and the incompetence of the National Biosafety Authority, and Ghana’s law enforcement in general:
“There are reports from the three northern regions that some farmers have sidestepped the regulatory system to plant Bt cotton seeds they brought in from Burkina Faso and are recording positive yields”. If this were true, it would be his responsibility to report this to the appropriate authorities, rather than narrating it to the media with glee.
One fact that comes out clearly in Dr. Chamba’s revelations of the illegal “confined field trials” of the Bt cotton is the disturbing lack of professionalism and sense of responsibility expected from a scientist who ought to know better. The very fact that the “confined” field trials were simply left in the hands of farmers rather than trained scientists is most alarming indeed, as we gather that, at least, in one location “the farmer could not go according to instructions”!
Although there appears to be nothing legal about the Bt cotton field trials, the article says they expect Bt cotton to be approved for commercial production soon. So if foreign corporations want something that is illegal in Ghana, Ghana’s politicians appear happy to just change the law to make it legal.
Every time a GMO crop is introduced, the seed industry and their political and academic shills make extravagant claims, loudly proclaiming better quality, higher yields, resistant to drought, etc. The reality soon turns out to be much different.In a recent opinion piece, Cottoning onto the lie: GM cotton will harm not help small farmers in Africa, Haidee Swanby from the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) shows how GM cotton has impoverished smallholder farmers due to the expense of the technology coupled with inevitable technological failures associated with GM cotton crops. The paper states:
“Scrutiny of actual experiences reveals a tragic tale of crippling debt, appalling market prices and a technology prone to failure in the absence of very specific and onerous management techniques, which are not suited to smallholder production.
As stated by a farmer during a Malian public consultation on GMOs, “What’s the point of encouraging us to increase yields with GMOs when we can’t get a decent price for what we already produce?”In Burkina Faso, the tide turned against GM cotton after just five seasons as low yields and low quality fibres persisted. In South Africa, GM cotton brought devastating debts to smallholders and the local credit institution went bust. Last season, smallholders contributed to less than three percent of South Africa’s total production.”
For smallholder farmers growing on tiny plots, GMO crops quickly become more vulnerable to pests, not less. With tiny plots, cross contamination of non-GMO crops is certain. Farmers soon begin to experience devastating losses. Seed industry corporations can wait for the smallholder to be forced out of business by debt, buy the land cheap, and leave farmers and their families with nothing. This is made even more certain by legislation such as the Plant Breeders Bill or the ARIPO New Plant Varieties Protection Protocol, which prevent farmers from saving and replanting seeds. Farmers are forced to buy new seed each year from the seed industry monopoly that can set any price it wants.Dr. Chamba says that only one company is making any attempt to produce and market cotton in northern Ghana, “only Wienco is attempting because it has put cotton under its maize programme.” That gives us a big clue to the real GMO agenda. The real objective is to grow the real money maker in Ghana, genetically modified Bt maize. There are already input subsidies in place for maize. This would be devastating to Ghanaian farmers and the Ghanaian diet. Farmers would incur crippling debt buying the expensive seeds. Pollen drift and contamination make GMO maize a threat to all Ghanaian varieties of maize.
This exact threat to other conventional varieties of maize is what informed Mexico’s decision to ban GM maize in 2013. The Bt cotton, which has no market, is just a way of getting the GMO foot in the door to pave the way for Bt maize. Most of the money made from Bt maize would exit Ghana, creating more wealth for foreign corporate interests, and mounting debt here in Ghana.
Dr. Chamba said they only had to spray the Bt cotton with pesticides twice. He neglected to point out that Bt cotton is itself a pesticide, registered as a pesticide by the USDA. Every cell of the plant contains Bt toxin throughout the entire life of the plant. Applications of other pesticides are just additional pesticides applied to a plant that is already itself a pesticide. It is genetically modified not to produce better quality cotton and not to increase yields, it is genetically modified to be a pesticide and to be patented.
Public opinion has been clearly against genetically modified crops in Ghana. Only the political and academic elites, who are listening to the G7 and USAID corporate enablers, and who think they may make big profits for themselves, are desirous of growing GMOs in Ghana. They don’t mind selling out their country and fellow citizens to big agricultural multinational corporations. Or they may be fooled by the corporations, the G8NA, and USAID into believing the false hype and bogus claims. The GMO enablers are hedging their bets and trying to co-opt the leadership of all political parties.
Aside from the negative health implications of GMOs, this high level technology is not workable for subsistence level farmers operating on very small plots of land. The global cotton market is highly competitive and unstable. High input costs are already annihilating profit margins. To promote more expensive technologies that have already proven unworkable for smallholder farmers in African countries is foolish and self-destructive for Ghana.
Our political leadership needs to focus on building Ghana. Rather than undermining farmers, poisoning consumers, and destroying Ghana’s ecosystems and agriculture with GMOs, Ghana’s politicians need to listen to the people who elect them. Public opinion is resoundingly against GMOs. There is no science anywhere demonstrating GMOs are safe. There is disturbing evidence from many quarters that GMOs and their attendant chemicals are an economic disaster for agriculture and a health disaster for the people who live in their proximity and the people who consume them.
Our political leadership appears determined to blanket Ghana with GMOs entirely against the wishes of Ghanaians. They are pushing to get this done before people catch on to what is happening. They know that if Ghanaians realize what is going on they will be angry and it will show in the way they vote. We must tell our local officials and our elected representatives we don’t want Bt cotton or Bt maize in Ghana. NO to GMOs! NO to Bt Cotton!
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
July 9, 2015
by Food Sovereignty Ghana
The Human Rights Division of the High Court in Accra today reconvened to hear the case filed by lead plaintiffs Food Sovereignty Ghana against the Ministry of Food & Agriculture, The National Bio Safety Committee as well the newly inaugurated Bio Safety Authority and the Ghana National Association of Farmers & Fisher folk (GNAFF). FSG is seeking an injunction against the commercialization and release of genetically modified Bt cowpeas and rice by the defendants. The announcement of the planned release was made in the Ghanaian media by Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) which specified plans to distribute the seeds in the three northern regions of Ghana.
In today’s proceedings Mr Bright Akwetey, counsel for the second plaintiffs, The Convention People’s Party (CPP) prayed the court to permit him to submit a supplementary affidavit in support of FSG’s position on the pending matter. Judge Kofi Essel Mensah granted the request based on the fact that he thought the application was well intentioned in bringing to the attention of the court, any laws or documents which would provide more understanding of the issues surrounding the case.
He reminded the court that no one person was a repository of all knowledge and that the evidence Lawyer Akwetey intended to submit would be useful in helping to determine the merits of the case brought before the court.
Counsel representing the Ministry of Food & Agriculture as well as the Attorney General’s office were absent from court as State Prosecutors in the Judicial Service had earlier begun their announced strike. Counsel for the 1st, 3rd and 4th plaintiffs George Tetteh Wayoe expressed concern that the undetermined duration of the strike may delay proceedings and hoped that it would not drag out for a long period as the matter brought before the court had a human rights dimension to it and delay in determining the case could affect the timely delivery of justice.
The Judge ordered Lawyer Bright Akwetey to file his supplementary affidavit by July 15 and set the date for reconvening of the case to July 22.
FSG maintains that Ghana is bound by its legal obligations under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to observe the precautionary principles and due process, before the approvals for the so-called “confined” field trials in the country as well as plans to commercialize and release GM crops contravention of the provisions of that Protocol.
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
PRESS RELEASE, 8 JULY, 2015
The case in which Food Sovereignty Ghana is seeking an injunction of the commercial release of Bt cowpeas and GM rice in Ghana is scheduled to be heard today at the Accra High Court today, 8th July, 2015.
The FSG has been joined in the suit which was filed with the National Biosafety Committee, The Ministry of Agriculture, the Attorney-General’s Department, as well as the newly inaugurated Natioanal Biosafety Authority, as the Defendants, has since been joined by the Convention People’s Party and Kanyan Akuafo Kuo, a farmer’s group from Goaso.
It is the contention of FSG that Modern Biotechnology is a potent and novel technology that presents unique risks. It is in recognition of this that measures have been put in place to ensure the safe handling, transport, and use of genetically modified organisms resulting from Modern Biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity, taking into accounts risks to human health. The non-respect of these measures could lead to catastrophic consequences.
FSG is claiming that the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, of which Ghana is a signatory, the Biosafety Act, 2011, Act 831, as well as the Legislative Instrument 1887, which established the National Biosafety Committee (NBC), have not been respected as regards the authorization of confined field trials and the conditions for a commercial release of GM crops, as it relates to the threats by SARI “to embark on the multiplication of seeds of the Bt cowpea in commercial quantities” as early as this year, “for distribution to farmers in the three northern regions“.
At the last court hearing, the judge directed that the original writ be amended to reflect all new parties on board within 14 days. The injunction on the release of bt cowpeas and rice remains effective and the case was adjourned to July 8 at 9am.
For Life, the Environment and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
July 6, 2015
by Food Sovereignty Ghana
Red Alert! ARIPO PVP: A Dirty Deal In The Making, Is President Mahama On Strings?
An international version of Plant Breeders Bill is about to be imposed on Ghana by Ghanaian representatives. This fraudulent deal is about to be concluded on our behalf, today, Monday, 6th July, 2015, at the Mount Meru Hotel, in Arusha, Tanzania. This is a big deal. The Ministerial Conference of ARIPO, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation, ARIPO, is billed to approve of a Draft Plant Variety Protocol which has been described as “one of the greatest thefts of natural resources in human history”.
Have the President and his ministers been hypnotized by the GMO lobby, by the G7, the US Embassy, USAID, its contractors, and Monsanto and friends? Are they deaf to to calls from the Ghanaian public? Monsanto is the premier poisoner of the planet. Monsanto and its agribusiness cronies want to control the agriculture of our entire continent. With this law Monsanto and the agribusiness industry can control all the seeds, all of what will be grown, what an entire continent may be able to eat, and whether it eats. Only those few farmers with money will be able to pay their prices for their seeds.
Considering the controversial nature of the meeting, especially its high profile and the intense lobbying activities being carried out by the usual pro-GM lobby, the USAID, G7, among others, it is safe to assume that either the President is in the know and approves of it, or he has lost total control over his Administration, and therefore, at least, incompetent, and or corrupt.
If, on the other hand, the President is not aware of the controversy surrounding the Plant Breeders’ Bill, or the ongoing attempts to impose it from outside if they can’t pass it in Ghana by means of the current Draft ARIPO Plant Variety Protection Protocol. then he is politically comatose, and unfit to rule. It is most alarming that this is happening without any public awareness and participation.
As strange as it may be, it remains our safest assumption that the President is fully aware of what is going on. We therefore demand accountability directly from him. And we call upon all the good people of Ghana to join us in demanding answers.
The ARIPO PVP Protocol
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa AFSA, described the ARIPO Plant Variety Protocol (ARIPO PVP), as being aimed at creating “a harmonised regional plant variety protection system within the region in order to give prominence to breeders and place restrictions on seed/varieties protected under such a system. Such protected varieties are bred and sold to farmers through seed companies and other private entities and government/private led subsidy agricultural programmes. The main goal is to facilitate the capturing of control of seed so that private companies can make profits by forcing farmers to buy seed and pay royalties”.
Clearly, this is not different from the rejected UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill, except that it is even worse. It has been described as UPOV 91+. The most stunning aspect of a conference whose decisions have such far-reaching consequences on all of us is the secrecy surrounding it. ARIPO is known for not being transparent, but even by ARIPO’s own standards, this conference has been the murkiest. There have been no public announcements, in the member states, no stake-holder consultations, no public awareness and participation.
The whole process has been as transparent as mud. As clandestine as a thief in the night, African governments, are being led by Ghana, are actively advocating the adoption of the ARIPO PVP Protocol! ARIPO is attempting to do to Africa, what our own Parliament failed to do to us, with the Plant Breeders’ Bill, thanks to a massive public opposition to it. And…, surprise, surprise, this has the active support of the Ghanaian government!
The question that naturally arises is what is the basis on which the government supporting such an international legislative project that has been overwhelmingly rejected in Gh ana? Who is Ghana representing at ARIPO? Are they representing the interests of Ghanaians or the wishes of their USAID lobbyists and multinational seed corporations waiting in the wings to reap huge profits at our expense?
A very bad deal indeed!
Everything that was bad about the Plant Breeders’ Bill is equally bad with the ARIPO PVP. They are both based on the UPOV 91 Convention. If the draft ARIPO PVP Protocol is to be adopted without changes, ARIPO and any ARIPO member that ratifies the Protocol can join UPOV 1991. This means that any member state of ARIPO can simply side step national consultation processes and ratify the ARIPO Protocol, and in doing so, give up its national sovereignty to a centralised decision making authoring, and further, become a UPOV 1991 member.
A recent study published in June 2015 , by the German Government, calls for the same recommendations we have been making for the past two years. The report indicates one of the key recommendations as: “Developing countries that have not yet joined UPOV should consider opting for alternative sui generis systems of PVP that allow for more flexibility in meeting the obligations of different treaties, for balancing the interests of diverse actors, and for protecting and promoting Farmers’ Rights, compared with the UPOV system.” (See: The UPOV Convention, Farmers’ Rights and Human Rights – An integrated assessment of potentially conflicting legal frameworks” (it is online and can be downloaded on the GIZ webpage: http://www.giz.de/fachexpertise/downloads/giz2015-en-upov-convention.pdf)
The same points that were made against the Plant Breeders’ Bill remain valid with the ARIPO PVP:
“The Bill is modeled on the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of 1991 (UPOV 1991) which a rigid and an inflexible regime for plant variety protection (PVP). It is worth noting that today out of the 71 UPOV members, only a fraction – about 22 developing countries are members of UPOV. Most of these developing countries (e.g. Brazil, China, Argentina, South Africa) and even some developed countries (e.g. Norway) are not members of UPOV 1991 but rather UPOV 1978, which is a far more flexible regime.
Ghana has full flexibility under the World Trade Organization (WTO) to develop an effective “sui generis” system for plant variety protection, i.e. to develop a unique system that suits its needs. In view of this, it is truly unfortunate and even irrational that instead of designing a PVP regime that reflects the agricultural framework and realities of Ghana as some other countries have done (e.g. India, Thailand, Ethiopia), Ghana is choosing to adopt and be bound by UPOV 1991 without any concrete evidence or impact assessment of the necessity and impacts of adopting such a regime.” (See: Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill Lacks Legitimacy! It Must Be Revised!).
What Needs To Be Done!
As the Executive President of the republic of Ghana, President John Mahama has the power and responsibility to make sure that the right thing is done. We particularly encourage the media to start ringing people up to ask what is going on at the ARIPO meeting. And what is the government of Ghana up to there when it is unable to find consensus an a national PBR law that is based on the ARIPO Protocol. At the very least, we must speak out; embarrass them and even if they do not change their position, we will have a track record to continue to expose and to challenge them.
If what is going on is with the express consent of His Excellency, President John Dramani Mahama, The Executive President of the Republic of Ghana, then he clearly owes Ghanaians some explanations as to Ghana’s position on the ARIPO PVP and how representative of Ghanaians that is! Above all, the President must explain how this behaviour does not contradict his Oath of Office.
The only plausible explanation why African governments blatantly abandon their solemn Oaths of Office to promote the safety and well-being of their people, and rather choose the side of their exploiters, is because they think they can get away with it! We must all assure the President he shall never get away with this, if he does not put his feet down to ensure that this obnoxious protocol is revised!
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Contact: Tel: +233 249867238 / +233 207973808
Ghanaian citizens have so far prevented the passage of the Plant Breeders Bill, a UPOV-91-compliant law that would strip Ghanaian farmers of their rights to their own seeds. But there is worse coming from the African Regional Intellectual Property Association (ARIPO). To Ghana’s great credit, and despite determination and pressure from the G7, USAID and its contractors, despite the willing and enthusiastic cooperation of Ghana’s Ministers, Attorney General, and both major political parties, Ghana has refused to pass a farmer destroying, sovereignty busting, UPOV law.
Ghanaian farmers and citizens are not falling for the International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV) con. The G7, USAID, Big Agribusiness, and Ghana’s government and academic elites intend to go around the democratic process and force an end to Ghana’s agricultural sovereignty.
If they can’t pass a UPOV law within the country, they will impose it from outside. At the African Regional Intellectual Property Association (ARIPO) Diplomatic Conference in Arusha, Tanzania, this coming Monday, 29th June to 1st July 2015, ARIPO plans to adopt the highly contested draft ARIPO Plant Variety Protection Protocol (ARIPO PVP Protocol), based on UPOV 1991.
This is clearly an undemocratic attempt to smuggle the obnoxious UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill through the back door! Ghana’s farmers and citizens demand seed sovereignty, and clearly oppose GMOs and the deadly chemicals that are an integral part of commercial GMOs. The agribusiness corporations are chemical corporations. So they breed seeds that require you to buy and use their chemicals. This is unhealthy and piles debt on farmers. It takes money from the hands of poor farmers, takes it out of Ghana, and gives it to western corporate shareholders.
If the draft ARIPO PVP Protocol is to be adopted without changes, ARIPO and any ARIPO member that ratifies the Protocol can join UPOV 1991. This means that any member state of ARIPO can simply side-step national consultation processes and ratify the ARIPO Protocol, and in doing so, give up its national sovereignty to a centralized decision-making authority, and further, become a UPOV 1991 member, all in one foul undemocratic swoop. It is unconscionable that Ghana’s government should have any part in this despicable subversion of democracy.
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, AFSA, is of the view that the whole process of developing the draft Protocol is fundamentally flawed, has been extremely un-transparent, and thus lacks credibility and legitimacy. Farmers and civil society groups have been cut out, and denied participation.
The principal aim of the ARIPO PVP Protocol is to create a harmonized regional plant variety protection system within the region in order to give prominence to breeders and place restrictions on seed/varieties protected under such a system. Such protected varieties are bred and sold to farmers through seed companies and other private entities and government/private led subsidy agricultural programmes. The main goal is to facilitate the capturing and control of all seed so that private companies can make profits by forcing farmers to buy seed and pay royalties.
By seizing intellectual property rights to Africa’s seeds, taking African seed DNA, manipulating it in a laboratory, then claiming all rights to the seeds and their successive generations, western corporations are attempting one of the greatest thefts in human history, the theft of the entire agricultural base of all the countries of Africa.
Ghana’s government has been falling over its own feet in its attempt to pass the UPOV-91-compliant Plant Breeders Bill. It can get the same law imposed simply by ratifying the ARIPO PVP Protocol. Ghana then automatically loses sovereignty over its seeds and farms and gives up control to multinational corporations. Those governing Ghana appear to think this is a good thing.
Ghana is a primary target of the G7 sponsors of the multinational agribusiness corporations. Ghana’s government has been wooed and flattered, Ghana’s scientists have be funded and flattered, and members of the press have been feted and misinformed. A variety of trips, cash awards and contributions have helped grease the wheels of government, academia, and the press, convincing them that Big Agribusiness is the way of the future and money in the bank. This con has been going on in all the countries of Africa. The idea is to form a consensus among governing and academic elites to believe they know what is best without consulting the farmers and consumers whose lives and livelihoods depend on their decisions. In fact they quite intentionally and deliberately withhold information from farmers and citizens and cut them out of the discussions so there will be no debate.
The ARIPO PVP Protocol is a tool for the foreign takeover of Ghana’s agriculture. It is a template for the takeover of all African agriculture, seeds, farms, land, and water. It will be a grievous blunder for Ghana to participate in such a sell-out which bars even the representatives of African civil societies, such as AFSA, to attend! We are astonished that the President of Ghana is saying nothing about this instead of calling for a revision of the ARIPO PVP! Under the WTO regulations, Member States of ARIPO, many of whom are Least Developed Countries are not even obliged to put any PVP legislation in place until 2021. No one needs it in Africa except greedy foreign multinational corporations of doubtful intentions and abilities.
We strongly support AFSA’s calls that the Diplomatic Conference be postponed indefinitely, and be subjected to a thorough evidence-based impact assessment/cost-benefit analysis, taking into account the conditions prevailing within the ARIPO region as well as meaningful national consultations involving all key stakeholders, especially smallholder farmers. These demands are fully supported and required by international law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and Article 9(2c) of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
The overwhelming rejection by Ghanaians of the UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill, is what ought to inform the external commitments by the Mahama Administration. We find it amazing that the government is going to go to this diplomatic conference and agree to a regional treaty that is controversial nationally. It especially insensitive on the part of a constitutionally elected President of the Republic of Ghana to oversee this undemocratic procedure adopted to rob us of our sovereignty as a people. We put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the President and call on him to declare Ghana’s position for public scrutiny. Incidentally, Ghana is one of the three countries ARIPO is looking up to for leadership.
We call on the President to publicly demand the revision of the draft ARIPO PVP Protocol in order to comply with the more flexible effective sui generis requirement of TRIPS Article 27.3(b), as well as including provisions that recognise farmers’ rights and facilitate the right to food. This revision should be based on a much broader consultation process and by making use of experts from outside of the plant breeders’ rights sector.
We call on all Ghanaians determined to live in peace and in dignity, to add their voices to this call until we hear from President Mahama! There are only a few days left before Monday, when it all begins!
Work to prevent Ghana’s participation and ratification! Contact your elected officials.
Oppose the ARIPO Plant Variety Protocol!
For Life, the Environment and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Contact: Tel: +233 249867238 / +233 207973808