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1996 Intervention to the FAO/CGRFA by Via Campesina
VíA CAMPESINA'S PLEA FOR RECOGNITION OF FARMERS' RIGHTS
Intervention of Vía Campesina to the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, on the Revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources
Last June, in Leipzig, Vía Campesina had the opportunity to present the proposal that Farmers' Rights, the Global Plan of Action, and the terms of the International Undertaking should be implemented through a broad-based consultation process with producer's organisations, peasants, indigenous people, and farmers. The fact that our declaration was incorporated in the Leipzig conference report in paragraph 30, recording our request for a permanent and flexible consultation process that will permit the participation and adequate representation of all stakeholders, is very important to us.
Now, we wish to ask you to bring about this consultation, and we restate our position that this Commission and the FAO, as representatives of the international community, should support a consultation process at national, regional and international levels that guarantees the integral participation of farmers, as the best mechanism that governments have to develop policies for implementing the Rights of their peoples.
It is appropriate now to describe the principles on which the international community should recognize Farmers' Rights, among which should be included:
Vía Campesina rejects intellectual property rights and the patenting of any form of life or of knowledge associated with these genetic resources because it is a threat to biodiversity and results in the legalization of the expropriation of knowledge and resources by industrial companies and transnational corporations. The fact that 95% of food-related patents are concentrated in only 7 countries and a few companies serves as sufficient example. We want to alert our governments to the danger that the monopolization of knowledge by a few transnationals threatens the future of humanity.
Food security is now one of the great concerns of humanity. Eliminating the hunger of 800 million poor people in the world is a task intimately linked to the work of this Commission. Food security is only possible if there is sufficient support for agricultural biodiversity, whose conservation and sustainable use we farmers have achieved through generations of implementing Farmers' Rights. Now, ladies and gentlemen, all that remains is to recognize them.
FAO, Rome, December 10, 1996