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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Tanzania Forced To Embrace Seed Patents Or Risk Losing Developmental Aid

A “development assistance” initiative launched five years ago by the G8, an inter-governmental political forum of the world’s most industrialized nations that consider themselves democracies, is holding Tanzania hostage to the benefit of agribusiness and the detriment of small-scale Tanzanian farmers. The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN), founded by the G8 in 2012 to ostensibly end hunger and poverty for 50 million people, has forced the Tanzanian government to amend its laws to drastically favor agribusiness and seed companies if it wishes to continue receiving developmental assistance aid. Monsanto, one of the NAFSN’s partners in Tanzania, is set to benefit from these changes to Tanzania’s laws. The NAFSN is funded by the EU, the U.S., the UK, the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The alliance had secured approximately $3.7 billion in private sector investment in signatory countries in Africa as of June 2012, a figure which is said to have since expanded, though no new figures have been released.While the NAFSN was supposed to benefit small-scale farmers, local farming organizations were shut out of negotiations, while agribusiness lobbyists had unprecedented access to those drafting the requirements of signatory countries seeking developmental assistance. Tanzania’s government, which administers one of the world’s least developed countries, was desperate for the aid. Due to this economic pressure, the Tanzanian legislature obliged. Per the new legislation, foreign commercial investors would be given faster and easier access to agricultural land in the African nation, as well as strong protections for “intellectual property rights,” e.g., seed patenting. Patented seeds, largely the products of behemoth seed companies like Monsanto and Syngenta, often pop up in neighboring farms that use traditional seeds via cross-pollination, a phenomenon that has been used by Monsanto and similar companies to sue small-scale farmers for “stealing” their intellectual property.

Source: Mint Press News