This future of farming picture was taken of a burned out combine east of Weekes Saskatchewan Saturday, December 11, 2004


On its way!
Corporate-controlled, profit-maximizing, farmer-restricting system

Brendaren Farms - Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - by: Edwin Wallace
For years, farmers have enjoyed the right to save, re-use and sell their own seed.  Now, that decades old right is under attack, under the name of the Seed Sector Review (SSR).

Proposed changes to Canada’s seed laws, increased use of contracts restricting seed use, and proliferation of gene patents are taking away farmers’ rights to save, re-use, and exchange seeds.  These changes criminalize the age-old customary practices of farmers. Part of the Review is a proposal for new laws that would force farmers to pay royalties whenever they saved and re-used their own seeds on their own farms. The Seed Sector Review also recommends tightening up Canada’s Plant Breeders’ (PBR) legislation to give seed companies additional years of royalty payments-a profit windfall for the companies, but a costly blow to farmers.

The Report says
“royalties could be collected through elevators or seed processors or through CWB contract programs.” 
Royalties would go to seed companies, not to farmer seed growers. The report lists ways to “encourage” farmers to buy more Certified seed. These include a suggestion to
“Link crop insurance premiums with the use of Certified seed”
requiring higher premiums from farmers who re-use their seed.

Changes to the PBR legislation would:
  • Extend plant breeders’ protection and royalty periods from the current 15 years to 20 years.
  • Allow interference with farmers’ right to save, re-use and sell seed.
  • Empower seed companies to collect royalties on farm-saved seed at elevators and cleaners, and
  • Allow patenting of seeds protected under Plant Breeders’ Rights-introducing double protection (for corporations).
In the early ‘80s, the public sector did 95% of plant breeding in Canada and 100% of breeding for cereal crops and oilseeds. Recently, however, transnationals have moved in to capture the profits from the seed “industry”. To do so, these companies needed vast regulatory regimes. First came Plant Breeder’ Rights, then gene patenting and global agreements to protect patents. Current seed company proposals are part of an attempt to construct a financial base for a high-cost inefficient, unproductive model of private plant breeding and research.

Instead of this corporate-controlled, profit-maximizing, farmer-restricting system, Canada needs a publicly-controlled plant breeding system to inexpensively and efficiently develop the seeds needed by Canadian farmers and the Canadian economy.

Proposed changes to Canada’s Seeds Act and our Plant Breeders’ Rights Act, directly threaten the rights of farmers and gardeners to save, re-use, and exchange seeds. These changes would criminalize our age-old, customary practices. And they would give increased control of our food system to transnational seed corporations.

Who’s behind the Seed Sector Review? The Seed Sector Review is a joint venture of the: Canadian Seed Growers Association, Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA), Canadian Seed Institute, Grain Growers of Canada. (GGC). CSTA’s members include Agricore United, Monsanto, Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, and Syngenta. GGA is an umbrella group for the Western Canadian Wheat Growers, Alta. Barley Commission, Canadian Canola Growers, Ont. Corn Producers, and Ont. Soybean Growers, etc. 

What can you do? — Write, phone or e-mail the Minister of Agriculture Andy Mitchell, his Parliamentary Secretary, and your local M.P.  The mailing address is ‘House of Commons, Ottawa, Canada, K1A 0A6.  A petition can be downloaded from  Check out for yourself what is in the Seed Sector Review by clicking on: “Nine things farmers need to know” on the National Farmers Union website at or by calling the NFU office at 306-652-9465.  Be sure to attend any meetings in your area on this issue.

Not only is the livelihood of many farmers at stake, but so are thousands of jobs at Research Stations all across Canada.

I'm Edwin Wallace



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