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By Network of Action on Pesticides RAP-Chile
“The study on alternatives of legal-normative and other protection for seeds and traditional practices related to agriculture, released this week by ODEPA (Office of Agrarian Planning) and carried out by teachers of the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Chile, together with other academics, is a functional proposal for the reactivation of the Monsanto Law project (Law of Plant Breeders). It does not address the UPOV 91 agreement, the main legal threat that looms over seed, peasant family farming and biodiversity, ”says María Elena Rozas, national coordinator of RAP-Chile, a member organization of the Yo No Quiero Transgénicos campaign in Chile . Lucía Sepúlveda, head of the organization's seeds area, adds: “We are not going to legitimize any government trick that is aimed at hiding or masking the true objectives of the Plant Breeders Law. We will continue with the campaign to defend peasant and indigenous seeds, together with all consumers who seek healthy food and want to feed their families with food that is free of GMOs, patents and pesticides. "
The issue of seed and its effective protection has not been a concern of the Chilean State in successive administrations. But the citizen campaign against the Monsanto Law forced President Bachelet to suspend in March 2014 the processing of the questioned project and to start the search for different mechanisms to make the law viable, such as the study  that we comment on and the writing of instructions to the original project, released by the Ministry of Agriculture in a unilateral process that has not had a national character nor has meant a rectification of the central ideas of the project. Nor has it made it consistent with food sovereignty, an objective that the president herself had indicated during her electoral campaign.
UPOV 91 is the core
Contrary to the consultants who carried out this study, the social, peasant and environmental organizations are very clear about the central objectives of the Plant Breeders Bill: promulgating the UPOV 91 agreement that curtails the fundamental rights of peasant and indigenous peoples, threatens biodiversity and paves the way for the expansion of GMOs and their introduction to the domestic market. Thus, all the traditional seeds remain at the disposal of the breeders (the large transnationals), which may be "fine-tuned" or "discovered" and then registered in the name of the companies. All the additions that are made to this law in order to protect peasant rights will be a dead letter in the face of the preeminence of the international agreement, as has happened in other countries. The government's decision to bypass the indigenous consultation regarding the Monsanto Law and to hold meetings on amendments to the law only in Santiago, exacerbates the situation. The consultancy for its part, in which the vice dean of the Faculty of Agronomy, Carlos Muñoz, President of the Plant Improver Committee created by ANPROS in 2008, participates, limited its research to a narrow universe with low peasant participation (a total of about 60 participants in two workshops in Santiago and one in Temuco,) which excluded historical peasant organizations such as ANAMURI and other environmental organizations with research and work on the subject such as RAP-AL.
RAP-AL has publicly stated that a breeders' law is not needed and instead delivered, on this occasion, to the director of PASO, Claudia Carbonell, the proposals for public policies in favor of agroecology prepared by peasant, environmental and environmental organizations. of consumers from all over the country in a workshop held for that purpose in Santiago in August 2014.
The proposals of the study commissioned by PASO aim at strengthening forms of intellectual seed protection, such as traditional seed registries, and are consistent with the content of version 2 of the Monsanto Law project that the Chilean government will reactivate in prompt form, apparently without conducting the indigenous consultation. Other proposals in this same study go in the opposite direction and aim to safeguard the rights of farmers to freely sell, use and exchange seed, but these good intentions lose all meaning if the UPOV 91 agreement is promulgated. The Monsanto Law, al to be enacted precisely would repeal the current seed law that the consultants propose to modify. The academics make recommendations on various international instruments such as the Nagoya Protocol and the ITPGR (on Plant Genetic Resources, from FAO) but they do not pronounce on UPOV 91 or the Cartagena Protocol, despite mentioning the Biodiversity Convention. When in 2011 the Constitutional Court analyzed - at the request of 21 senators - the legality of the UPOV 91 agreement approved by the Senate, among those who defended the privatization of the seed was Carlos Muñoz, representing the Plant Breeders Committee linked to ANPROS, the National Association of Producers of Seeds.
GMOs and centers of origin
The study tendered by ODEPA addresses the relationship between the existence of transgenic crops and the protection of peasant seed, and implicitly endorses the coexistence between these two antagonistic forms of cultivation. The consequences of joining the UPOV 91 Convention include in practice the expulsion of peasants from their territory, facilitating the expansion of transgenic crops and their introduction to the domestic market.
The contamination of traditional or conventional crops by transgenics is a real risk and the damages are proven in Chile and other countries. However, the consultants and agronomists Ricardo Pertuzé, Carlos Muñoz and Dinko Covacevich do not consider it necessary to require the SAG to monitor the possible genetic contamination of crops related to transgenic corn. This protection proposal was presented in the study separately by M. Isabel Manzur (Chile Sustentable), Salvador Millaleo (expert in indigenous law) and Blanche Magarinos-Rey (French lawyer from the NGO Kokopelli), who were also members of the consulting team . The aforementioned academics from the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Chile are against the new transgenic crops undergoing an environmental impact study, a proposal supported by the dissident consultants. This, moreover, is part of the current legislation, although the respective regulations have not been prepared. Muñoz, Pertuzé and Covacevich argue that only the Ministry of Agriculture should intervene in the authorizations, doing it on a case-by-case basis and without an Environmental Impact Assessment.
The study also includes an analysis of the comparative legislation but fails to mention the moratorium on transgenics in force in Peru as a seed protection measure. The consulting team does not include the moratorium on transgenics among the proposals to be considered or incorporated and dedicates little space to the relationship between seed and genetic engineering and the consequences thereof.
During the presentation of this consultancy before civil society, the director of PASO, Claudia Carbonell, confirmed that the consultants were aware of version 2 of the Plant Breeders Law (Monsanto Law), prepared by Hugo Martínez, advisor to Minister Furche , whose content has already been rejected by environmental and peasant organizations in the meetings in which these additions were presented. He did not give dates for the resumption of the proceedings in the Senate of the Monsanto Law but affirmed that the study and the revision of the law had been parallel processes.
RAP-Chile, together with the YNQT campaign in Chile, calls on social, peasant, environmental and consumer organizations to stay united and alert to this new attempt to pass a law that only benefits agribusiness transnationals, and that constitutes a threat to biodiversity, peasant family agriculture and food sovereignty, also violating the right to healthy food that we all have.