Buenos Aires, July 26. The Government of Argentina insisted on Tuesday on the need to regulate the so-called “own use” of seeds and for farmers to pay royalties for sowing genetically modified seeds, something that has generated strong controversy for years in the South American country, one of the largest world producers and exporters of grains and derivatives.
“It is necessary to regulate the proper use of the seed, which must be onerous,” said the Argentine Minister of Agriculture, Julián Domínguez, during an extraordinary meeting of the National Seed Commission.
Last week, Domínguez had already met with representatives of companies that develop seeds to advance a project that promotes charging rural producers for the use of transgenic soybean and wheat seeds.
Argentina has a seed law approved in 1973, when this technology did not exist, and for 2 decades there have been bids between development companies and farmers’ associations that have prevented, in practice, a regulatory update in Parliament.
“Argentina has a pending debate on the Seed Law. I hope that the National Congress can deal with it and resolve it,” Domínguez said on Tuesday.
In Argentina, “breeders”, as the developers of genetically modified events are technically called, collect royalties when they sell a bag of seeds to a farmer for cultivation.
But for years they have also claimed to collect royalties also for the so-called “own use”, that which a farmer does when he allocates part of the grains obtained in a harvest to replanting.
The farmers do not reject that the intellectual property rights in plant genetic improvement are duly recognized, but they demand that this charge be made exclusively on the seed at the time the farmer buys it from the “breeder”.
Years ago, there was already a strong controversy when the multinational Monsanto tried to collect royalties on shipments of transgenic soybeans grown in Argentina and exported to various parts of the world.
Domínguez affirmed this Tuesday that in Argentina only 18% of the seeds that are sown are supervised “so it is urgent to promote their use.”
“We want our producers to have the best yields and technologies available, which is why we want to promote investment in research and development to compete with the countries of the region,” he said.
Argentina is the first world exporter of soybean meal and oil, the third of soybeans and the fifth of wheat flour. EFE