For over 10,000 years, peasants have always saved, selected, exchanged and sold seeds, and used and reused them to produce food. This is essential to peasants' right to food, as well as to global food security and biodiversity.
But the protection of intellectual property rights over seeds at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), and the promotion of commercial seed systems have posed serious challenges to the protection of these customary practices, and to the maintenance of peasant seed systems and agro-biodiversity. In Europe, the creation of seed catalogues exclude peasants’ seeds, which in many cases cannot be offered for sale, and peasant seed systems are not well protected.
To respond to these challenges, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council notably adopted a UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas (UN Declaration), in which the right to seeds is recognized.
The Geneva Academy supported, via dedicated research, the preparatory work that led to the negotiation of a UN Declaration (2008-2012) and the negotiation itself (2013-2018).
This project aims at raising awareness among European seed networks and peasant organizations on the importance of the UN Declaration.
The project will notably identify, via the publication of a guide and expert workshops, 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.
This project received a grant from the Fondation Salvia.