Why are small-scale farmers protesting the RCEP?
March 4, 2017: The Japanese family farmer movement recently protested outside RCEP negotiations in Kobe, Japan, with the message 'Seeds are ours!’
Photo: Japanese family farmer movement (Nouminren)’s recent action in Kobe during RCEP negotiations
They are against TPP-like proposals in the RCEP to facilitate the patenting of plants and seeds which would make it more difficult for farmers to save and exchange seeds with each other.
Australia has already signed up to these rules through the 1991 UPOV Convention but other RCEP countries have not. In many of these, in particular developing countries, small-scale farmers rely on being able to swap and save seeds for future harvest - something they have done for centuries.
Small scale farmers in developing countries do not have the same capacity as larger corporations to use the legal system to either receive intellectual property rights or defend themselves if they are accused of an infringement.
These rules would also make these farmers more vulnerable to exploitation by corporations as they often do not have the capacity to prove if a seed variety was already existing in their area.
Read more on this from the GRAIN website