15 March 2021
Our new Practical Manual on the Right to Seeds in Europe focuses on the steps that the European Union (EU) and the EU Member States shall take, via the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas (UNDROP), to better protect the right to seeds in Europe.
Authored by Dr Christophe Golay and Dr Fulya Batur, this practical manual is the outcome of a series of online events organized in 2020 and 2021 – with partners such as European Coordination Via Campesina, Arche Noah, IFOAM Organics Europe and FIAN International.
Targeting representatives of EU institutions and EU Member States, peasant organizations, seed networks, academics and experts from Europe, it discusses how UNDROP’s article 19, which recognizes the right to seeds, shall be taken into account in the future revision of EU rules on seeds, with concrete examples on the path forward.
‘EU and EU Member States shall ensure that this revision does not lead to further violations, but to better protection of peasants’ right to seeds in Europe. Our practical manual provides them with the tools to do so’ underlines Dr Christophe Golay, Senior Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.
In the EU and EU Member States, seed laws and regulations have been designed to cater to the needs of the agricultural industry, and the rights of peasants have been largely neglected. Peasant seed systems and traditional knowledge have not been recognised, and therefore not adequately supported. This has discouraged, and in some cases hindered the continuation of peasant agricultural activities.
Dr Christophe Golay explains that ‘UNDROP’s implementation represents a unique opportunity to rebalance the lack of support given to peasant seed systems in Europe, compared to the support given to industrial seed systems in recent decades. This is essential for the protection of the livelihoods of millions of peasants, as well as the interest of all in the preservation of crop biodiversity’.
For Dr Fulya Batur, founder of Kybele (Seeds & Biodiversity), ‘the EU and its Member States shall now act to make sure that peasants’ seed systems not only exist but fully operate and thrive as production and conservation systems. They shall ensure the full and meaningful participation of peasants in decision-making on matters relating to seeds; guarantee the right of peasants to maintain, control, protect and develop their own seeds and traditional knowledge; and make sure that agricultural research and development is oriented towards peasants’ needs’.
Vance Culbert is a senior development and humanitarian professional who has managed operations for NGOs and UN agencies over the past twenty years. He just started as a Visiting Fellow at the Geneva Academy and will stay with us until the end of October.
In its last session, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC). created an international monitoring mechanism on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.
The project will notably identify the main opportunities and obstacles to protect the right to seeds in Europe. It will also discuss how to promote changes in European laws, policies and trade agreements to ensure that they do not infringe, but facilitate the realization of peasants’ right to seeds.