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Ecuador: On the Seed Law in debate

Ecuador: On the Seed Law in debate

On the heritage of the seed:

The text of the law establishes that:

“The native seeds and the biological resource constitute the heritage of the peoples and nationalities. The genetic resource is the patrimony of the State ”

Here an artificial division is established, a fragmentation between what is biological and what is genetic in the seed. This separation was initiated by the Convention on Biological Diversity in this way:

On the one hand genetic resources are the “genetic material of real or potential value”; genetic material being "all material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin that contains functional units of heredity"; while biological resources are "genetic resources, organisms or part of them, populations or any other type of biotic component of ecosystems of real or potential value or utility for humanity."

They are very confusing definitions because, how are the genes (the functional units of heredity) separated from the rest of the organism?

The separation created artificially by the industry, between "seed" and "grain" is the same. Let's take the example of corn: the seed is what is sown and the grain, which is what is consumed, belongs to the farmer, but the "genetic information" contained in the seed, which determines that it is a yellow corn with a certain content made of starch or that is resistant to frost, for example, is the patrimony of the State.

For a peasant, this division does not exist, and it will be a bit difficult to understand how the State is going to ensure that this division is made effective in practice.

This language is then maintained in the definition of native seed, when it is established that:

"The native seed is part of the phytogenetic resources for food and agriculture, whose genetic competence constitutes the patrimony of the State"

The separation between "biological resource" and "genetic resource" is only understood if one wants to obtain some commercial benefit from the "genetic component" of the seed. Let us remember that both the Constitution of Ecuador and the definition of "native seed" establish that it will not be appropriated.

What do we understand in this case by appropriation? That it will not be able to enter the market since, since it is part of everyone's patrimony, it must remain as such, as determined by the Constitution of Ecuador, Art. 322 when it says:

"All forms of appropriation of collective knowledge, in the field of sciences, technologies and ancestral knowledge is prohibited. The appropriation of genetic resources that contain biological diversity and agro-biodiversity is also prohibited"

What is reinforced by Art. 402:

"The granting of rights, including intellectual property rights, over derivative or synthesized products obtained from the collective knowledge associated with national biodiversity is prohibited"

Despite what has been said, the Ingenios Code establishes a very detailed procedure for the recognition of rights over “genetic resources” and associated knowledge, via contracts.

Continuing with the definition of native seeds, we see that the text of the bill says that:

For the purposes of this law, native seed is all sexual and asexual plant reproductive material that maintains its reproductive capacity, which has been domesticated, conserved, raised, cared for, used and exchanged by producers, communes, communities, peoples and nationalities according to to its diverse knowledge and cultures, whose use, conservation, qualification, exchange, promotion and protection corresponds to individuals and communities with the support of the State.

The State has never supported any of the activities described in the article. Everything has been the result of the effort and creativity of the indigenous and peasant communities of our country. For example, the processes of domestication began even before the establishment of the state as such. There are seeds in Ecuador dating back more than 9 thousand years. The problem is that it has been put into the definition, because it could be understood that if that seed has not been domesticated or conserved with the support of the State, it ceases to be native seed.

About the quality of the native seed

Although this version of the bill no longer requires that native seed comply with all the requirements of the so-called “certified seed”, if it is required to comply with phytosanitary standards.

For example, Article 32 says that:

"Both native seed and peasant seed may enter the market for conventional production seed, provided they comply with current phytosanitary standards."

This is reinforced when “Rights in the field of agrobiodiversity” are mentioned:

"c) .- Right to the recognition and appreciation of ancestral and traditional knowledge and knowledge linked to agrobiodiversity and the production of seeds, free of diseases, as well as the substantial role of women and the elderly in their conservation, protection and safeguarding "

Here, more than a right, there is a provision: that the production of native seeds must be free of diseases. It is correct that the seeds that are planted and circulated, whether in the market or through other forms of exchange, do not transmit diseases; but a disease can be interpreted as the presence of viruses, common in some native seeds that have circulated for generations without posing a threat to agricultural systems. This is a way of imposing similar standards on peasant seeds as industrial seeds, despite the fact that each of them entails very different levels of risk: given the volume of production and the system to which they are destined (monoculture) , industrial seeds have a higher risk of generating diseases.

These provisions are reinforced by the following article:

"Art. 54- The seed inspectors will be responsible for controlling their production, processing, and commercialization. In order to meet these objectives, they will have free access to agricultural properties, sorting plants, warehouses, premises, customs and other places where they are produced, stored. or sell seeds. For this purpose, if applicable, they will have the support of the National Police "

We are again facing the scenario experienced in Colombia with the application of Resolution 9.70, through which thousands of tons of rice seeds were destroyed, for not complying with a regulation that demanded the same level of compliance for industrial seeds as to the so-called "Creole seeds".

More information:


Video: Finally harvest time for the Ecuador dragon fruit that were started from seeds of March 16, 2018 (June 2021).