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Argentina's Impending ‘Monsanto Law’ is Not Welcome

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries [es] of Argentina is working on a new law to protect the intellectual property rights of companies that produce transgenic seeds. This bill, dubbed by small producers as ‘Seed Law’ or ‘Monsanto Law', is being strongly criticized by various sectors who consider that Argentina could lose its food sovereignty if the law moves forward.

The website Partido Pirata [es] (Pirate Party) writes about the consequences that such law could bring to Argentina:

Quiere legalizar la policía de semillas que tan nefastos resultados tuvo en EEUU y Europa. Esta ley le daría la propiedad de las semillas a Monsanto. Porque bastaría que las semillas que siembran nuestros campesinos y chacareros estén contaminadas por el gen para ser propiedad de Monsanto, los productores de semillas no podrán acopiar sus semillas.

[The law] wants to legalize the seeds policy that has had disastrous results in the U.S. and Europe. This law would give Monsanto the ownership of seeds. The seeds that our small farmers and landholders sow would just have to be contaminated by the gene to be considered the property of Monsanto, and seed producers would not be able to collect their seeds.

In Tribuna de Periodistas [es] (Journalists’ Tribune), Carlos Forte quotes Minister of Agriculture Norberto Yahuar:

Marcha contra Monsanto en Buenos Aires, Argentina, 17 de septiembre 2012. Foto de Maximiliano Ramos, copyright Demotix.

Protest against  Monsanto in Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 17th 2012. Photo: Maximiliano Ramos, copyright Demotix.

“En los últimos tiempos se compraban semillas de tecnología que pasaban a ser propiedad exclusiva de los productores, y después esos campos generaron cantidades que excedían a la que necesitaban para una nueva resiembra, por lo que se produjo un comercio que no tiene prácticamente control. Lo lógico es que todo el desarrollo que hacen tanto el Estado como empresas privadas tengan un respaldo en el resguardo de esa propiedad intelectual.”

“In recent times, the purchased biotech seeds would become the exclusive property of producers, and then the amount of seeds generated in those fields exceeded the amounts needed for a new reseeding, so a trade with virtually no control sprung up. The logical thing is that all development carried out by the State and private companies be backed up under the protection of intellectual property rights.”

Forte also writes about the 10 motives [es] that different organizations presented to fight against this new law:

Las organizaciones Movimiento Nacional Campesino Indígena (MNCI), CLOC-Vía Campesina Argentina, GRAIN, Amigos de la Tierra y Acción por la Biodiversidad accedieron a un borrador del proyecto de fines de agosto al que calificaron como un intento de “subordinar la política nacional de semillas a las exigencias de la UPOV (Unión Internacional para la Protección de Obtenciones Vegetales) y las transnacionales”.

En una declaración de “10 motivos para luchar contra el proyecto de ley” señalaron que la norma propuesta “sólo fomenta la privatización y protege la propiedad sobre lo que es un patrimonio colectivo de los pueblos, especialmente de las comunidades campesinas y los pueblos indígenas”.

Organizations such as Movimiento Nacional Campesino Indígena (MNCI, National Farmers and Indigenous Movement), CLOC-Vía Campesina Argentina (Farmers Way Argentina), GRAIN, Amigos de la Tierra (Friends of the Earth) and Acción por la Biodiversidad (Action for Biodiversity) accessed a draft of the bill at the end of August, which they called an attempt to “subjugate the national seeds policy to the demands of the UPOV (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants) and transnational corporations. “

In a declaration of “10 motives to fight against the bill” [these organizations] emphasized that the proposed law “only promotes and protects the privatization of the collective heritage belonging to the people, especially to the rural communities and indigenous people. “

Forte also adds:

Mientras esto ocurre, los grandes medios callan respecto a este tema. Lo mismo sucede con referentes políticos, tanto del oficialismo como de la oposición. La única que ha hablado claramente es Cristina Kirchner. Eso sí, a favor de Monsanto.

While this happens, big media companies remain silent about the subject. The same happens with politicians, both from the ruling and opposition parties. The only one who has spoken clearly is [President] Cristina Kirchner. Of course, in favor of Monsanto.

Meanwhile, Monsanto spreads the news about the approval for commercialization [es] of a new technology that will increase soybean yield:

“Hoy vemos con agrado que se están dando las condiciones necesarias para avanzar con un nuevo modelo de negocios que reconozca la propiedad intelectual a las invenciones tecnológicas en soja. Así, continuaremos trabajando junto a los productores y a toda la cadena para contar con un modelo consolidado al momento del lanzamiento comercial de la tecnología”.

Monsanto, junto con todos los actores de la cadena de soja, se encuentra finalizando un proceso de consenso que permita el establecimiento de un modelo de negocios que reconozca y respete los derechos de propiedad intelectual sobre las tecnologías patentadas, de modo de estar en condiciones de lanzar comercialmente INTACTA RR2 PRO en el año 2013 en el norte del país.

“Today we are happy that the necessary conditions to move forward with a new business model that recognizes intellectual property rights in soybean technological inventions are being met. Thus we will continue to work with producers and the entire chain to have a consolidated model at the time of the commercial launch of the technology. “

Monsanto, along with all actors in the soy chain, is finishing a consensus process that allows the establishment of a business model that recognizes and respects intellectual property rights on patented technologies, in order to be able to launch INTACTA RR2 PRO commercially in 2013 in the north of the country.

A ‘mega event’ under the slogan “Out Monsanto” [es] was organized through Facebook for December 2, 2012. The same event had been convened on September 17.

Cucharaargentina shares the following video of one of the protests:

El mega evento se desplegó copando la Plaza San Martín con el objetivo de repudiar el accionar criminal de la empresa, el uso de agrotóxicos y rechazar la modificación a la ley de semillas que propone el gobierno nacional, que ya se conoce como “Ley Monsanto”.

The mega event spread through Plaza San Martín in order to condemn the criminal actions of the company, the use of pesticides, and reject the amendments to the seed law proposed by the national government, already known as the ‘Monsanto Law’

Featured image [es] by Paola Barrios Escudero via Facebook.
  • Thomas Verga

    I don’t understand how the Argentinian government can just implement this kind of properties right law without the consent of the people. What is the point of being a representative of the people if you do convey their decision. I understand Argentina is a republic where the people’s voice is based on a representative, but when the people are happy, their representative should not being looking the other way. To me, this is just another way that corporations are taking advantage of the unspoken. the article stated that politicians and the media are remaining quiet on the matter at hand, but how can something so big go without notice. The simple answer, it can’t. I believe in what the peoples of Argentina are doing and fully support their cause to say no to their government and their decisions.

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