Monday, 14 September 2009

Seed variety loss seen hampering climate response

8-10 Sept 2009, Rome. Farmers in developing countries are losing traditional varieties because of growing corporate control of the seeds they plant, hampering their ability to cope with climate change, a London-based think tank said.

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said in a report that the diversity of traditional seed varieties is falling fast and this means valuable traits such as drought and pest resistance could be lost forever. The report was issued ahead of the World Seed Conference at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. The World Seed Conference was intended to raise awareness of the importance of new plant varieties and high quality seed in this context and considers how governments can develop an enabling environment to encourage plant breeding and the production and distribution of high quality seed.

IIED partner organisations in China, India, Kenya and Peru participated in the research behind the report.The report said an international tready on the protection of new varieties of plants -- known as UPOV -- protects the profits of private corporations but fails to recognise and protect the rights and knowledge of poor farmers.

"Western governments and the seed industry want to upgrade the UPOV convention to provide stricter exclusive rights to commercial plant breeders. This will further undermine the rights of farmers and promote the loss of seed diversity that poor communities depend on for their resilience to changing climatic conditions." said project leader Krystyna Swiderska of IIED

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