Access to locally sourced food is a key element of resilience. Recently the National Farmers Union has flagged yet another attempt by the government of Canada to hand over control of food sources to global agribusiness corporations. The NFU has a Fact Sheet and a petition to Parliament on their website. Here is the text of the petition:
Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled
We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, recognize that the agreement known as CETA between Canada and the European Commission will impact on all aspects of our lives. This proposed agreement will jeopardize the ability of governments at all levels to procure goods and services that favour in any way local businesses thereby, for example, destroying arrangements that specifically source local food. Further this agreement is calling for the inclusion of UPOV91 a draconian form of Plant Breeders Rights legislation that will effectively eliminate a farmer’s or citizen’s ability to save, reuse, exchange and sell seed.
This agreement is also calling for the inclusion of enforcement procedures to uphold intellectual property rights that would allow for the judicial precautionary seizure of movable and immovable property, and the freezing of bank accounts of the alleged infringer. A farmer could see his/her home, land, equipment, and crops seized and have bank accounts frozen for being accused of using seed (including their own) that has a gene patent or other form of intellectual property attached to it. We also recognize that this agreement is likely to have very negative impacts on our Canadian supply management systems for dairy, poultry and egg farmers as well as the Canadian Wheat Board.
Therefore, your petitioners call on Parliament to refrain from entering into any arrangement that would restrict or prohibit governments from favouring local goods, services and local food. Further we call on Parliament to reject any agreement such as THE COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC AND TRADE AGREEMENT that would contain UPOV91 and any other restriction on farmers and citizens’ ability to save, reuse, select, exchange and sell seeds. We further call for the outright rejection of any provisions which would allow for the judicial precautionary seizure of crops, homes, land, equipment, and the freezing of bank accounts for alleged infringement of intellectual property. We call on Parliament to fully disclose the content of this agreement, including the text, throughout the entire negotiating process to the citizens of Canada.
Please fill out and return to the National Farmers Union, 2717 Wentz Ave., Saskatoon, Sask. S7K 4B6 or fax to the NFU at (306) 664-6226.
For more information, contact the NFU office at (306) 652-9465 or by email at email@example.com or go to www.nfu.ca.
This does need to be checked out because some aspects of it are confusing. For instance: the NFU recognizes CETA as a threat to farmers because their assets could be seized if they are accused of violating ‘intellectual property rights’ (for instance by saving seeds); but these rights are claimed by corporations who own patents to genetically modified organisms. Yet the NFU Fact Sheet says that the ‘CETA agreement does not apply to Genetically Modified Organisms’ (because of an Appendix inserted by the EU). This may need some explaining.