“Seed is something that is sacred. Seed is life. In our tradition, it is about culture, identity; it’s about sharing … If everything is for sale, when will it stop?” asked Rifqah Tifloen at a public hearing on the Plant Improvement Bill and the Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill in Port Elizabeth’s City Hall on Friday.
Tifloen of Calabash Trust was making a submission on two bills introduced in the National Assembly and published in the Government Gazette on 23 January 2015. The Plant Improvement Bill and the Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill will replace the Plant Improvement Act (1976) and the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act (1976).
The bills seek among other things to regulate the quality, import and export of plants and to protect the ownership rights and royalties of plant breeders.
Tifloen believes the bills will harm small scale farmers. “Seed production and distribution should be made accessible to the poor. These two bills, if made into Law, will subvert food production and food security. We want bills that protect farmers’ rights and not one’s that enable policing of farmers. We want policies that support food sovereignty because all people have a constitutional right to food,” she said. Read more