To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

January 18, 2010

Brazil, US accused of 'exploiting' African sorghum seed with patent application

An international treaty designed to protect seeds from commercial exploitation is allegedly being violated by the US and Brazilian governments and a Texas university.

According to the Johannesburg-based African Centre for Biosafety a Tanzanian sorghum seed, held in trust under the treaty by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India is being patented the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and the Texas A&M University.

The treaty - the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) also known as "the Seed Treaty" - prohibits patent claims on varieties and genes of plants that are held in trust.

Mariam Mayet, director of ACB, said: "On the face of it, it appears as if the Seed Treaty has been violated. (It) is a new chapter in a long history of appropriation of African sorghum diversity by foreign interests."

A briefing paper by Edward Hammond by published by the centre says that the gene which enables tolerance to aluminium toxicity in acid soils, which is a problem affecting parts of north America and Europe and as much as 30% of arable land in Latin America, East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa has strong commercial potential.

"Although it was only recently identified, the giant multinational Dow Chemical is already negotiating with the US government to licence it. Japan's second largest paper products company has also expressed interest in buying access to it," Hammond said.

The gene (SbMATE) is not only useful in sorghum, but also may be used in other crops including genetically engineered (GE) maize, wheat, and rice as well a GE eucalyptus tree plantations.

"The SbMATE gene does not rightfully belong to the USDA, Embrapa, or Texas A&M, and those institutions must abandon their unjust claims to the Tanzanian gene," Hammond said. "The institutions that are charged with protecting this resource - must act to protect - trust plants and genes from such claims. The genius of African farmers that is locked up in (international research) vaults and other seed banks cannot be allowed to be used to undermine diverse farming systems and earn profit for multinational corporations. These seed collections should rather serve the interests of African farmers, sustainable food production systems and the preservation and development of in situ genetic diversity. This does expressly not include the packaging of in trust genes and plants into patents and selling them to the highest bidder.

"Sorghum came from Africa and it remains vital for food security on the continent today. African sorghums have also historically, and to the present, been the foundation upon which the sorghum industries of the United States and other countries have depended."
Fin24

 

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP