The Green Party of Canada is concerned that Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, which was debated for the first time on Monday, will actually restrict farmer’s ability to grow crops in Canada.
By forcing a stricter regime of intellectual property into the growing process in the form of Plant Breeders’ Rights, this bill will restrict the ability of farmers to engage in the age-old practices of saving, storing, cleaning, and treating their own seed.
Related: Save our seeds! Sign the petition!
“At a time when farmers are struggling, what this bill gives with the right hand is only a small piece of what it takes away with the left. It installs a very limited farmer’s privilege to store one year’s worth of seed only after taking away the currently implicit farmer’s privilege to store as much seed as they see fit,” explained Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands.
In place of farmers’ rights to clean, store, and treat their own seed in the way they know works best for their land, this bill trades away these rights in favor of yet new rights for some of the world’s most profitable corporations.
“Once the seed companies can control the seed supply by charging royalties they will then have less incentives to invest in new research. Rather than enticing the farmers to buy new and better varieties, the seed companies will be able to extract their profit from farmer’s pocket every year with no new investment, ” added Kate Storey, Green Party Critic on Agriculture.
Rather than further tipping the scales in favor of agribusiness, a genuine Agricultural Growth Act should grow our agricultural system by giving farmers the support and tools they need to grow, ensuring a vibrant agricultural sector and healthy, sustainable, affordable food for Canadians.