A Cambiemos project limits the use of seeds obtained by farmers. If they are used, they will have to pay royalties to large producers such as Bayer-Monsanto.
"Who controls the seeds controls the food," have been warning peasant and farmer movements around the world for decades. It is the same phrase that will resonate in the National Congress, when the Cambiemos deputies try to give half a sanction to "the Bayer-Monsanto seed law", legislation at the request of large companies, which limits own use (use seeds from previous harvests ) and, in an unusual way, it proposes that agricultural entrepreneurs deduct seed royalties from income taxes (which implies a transfer of resources from the State to the large agricultural multinationals).
Four groups of companies control 90 percent of transgenic seeds and 60 percent of all seeds (including conventional): Bayer-Monsanto, ChemChina-Syngenta, Corteva (Dow-DuPont) and BASF. For more than a decade, they have been promoting restrictive seed laws in Latin America for farmers and ensuring greater profits for companies.
With the former president of the Rural Society at the head of Agroindustry, Luis Miguel Etchevehere, and seconded by Aapresid (Association of Direct Sowing Producers), the Government promoted a bill created by the Association of Argentine Seedbeds (ASA), where they converge large international companies.
“We say no to this bill because it implies submitting producers to royalty payments for years, when they wish to save seeds to re-sow. This means the violation of a basic right, which gives meaning to agriculture. This will allow the persecution of the producers and advances in the criminalization of native and creole seeds, preventing free exchange between producers ”, denounced in a joint document more than 300 peasant, indigenous, human rights, socio-environmental and academic organizations.
On November 13, in the plenary session of the Agriculture, Budget and Legislation Commissions of the Chamber of Deputies, the ruling party (Pro-UCR and Martín Lousteau's sector) signed the bill that was drafted behind closed doors together with the companies and He was not known to the rest of the blocks.
Let's change looked for allies. If it arrives with the votes, it will present it in parliamentary work (meeting prior to the session on site).
From the Government, the companies and the newspapers of the transgenic agriculture indicate that there is “consensus” for a new seed law. “The project to be approved was negotiated outside the Chamber of Deputies by the Executive, the Bayer-Monsanto spokespersons, and the large producers of the Rural Society. The project excludes the interests of native peoples, producers of family agriculture, peasants and consumers ”, denounced the Multisectorial against the Bayer / Monsanto Seeds Law, the Union of Land Workers, the Indigenous Peasant Movement, the Chairs of Sovereignty Food of the UNLP and Nutrition of the UBA, the Union of Citizen Assemblies (UAC), the Meeting of Fumigated Peoples, the Rural Studies Group of the Gino Germani Institute and the National Ecological Action Network (Renace), among other organizations.
"Own use" is a practice as old as agriculture. It consists of using the seeds of the harvest for the next sowing. "The bill establishes that own use is no longer free and free, it is no longer a right of farmers that is framed by international treaties to which Argentina is a signatory and becomes an exception," explained the peasant organizations and They pointed to the objective of the large multinational agricultural companies: "They seek to collect royalties every time a producer uses 'their' seeds again."
Facundo Cuesta, from the communication group Huerquen and the Multisectorial contra la Ley Bayer / Monsanto, compared: “It's as if you buy a CD and with that price they charge you an extra for listening to it for the first five years. That madness want the multinationals of agriculture and the Government ”.
Article 10 of the project establishes that it is incorporated as part of the "special deductions of the third category" (of the Income Tax Law) the possibility for producers to deduct "one and a half times the amounts paid for acquisition of audited seed ”. Far from the technical-legislative language difficult to understand, Carlos Vicente from the international organization Grain sums up: "It implies that the payment of the seed to the multinationals will be financed by the Argentine state, that is, all citizens."
In the plenary of commissions, the deputy Axel Kicillof explained it: a soybean producer who pays 100 dollars of royalties will be able to deduct 150 from taxes on profits. “It is a scandal. It is a subsidy from all of us, from the State, to the agricultural corporations, ”denounced Facundo Cuesta, from the Multisectorial against Bayer / Monsanto.
The promoter of the project in the Chamber of Deputies is the legislator Atilio Benedetti, who intends to be governor of Entre Ríos. Also part of the Rural Society project, Aacrea (Argentine Association of Regional Consortiums of Agricultural Experimentation), Rural Confederations (CRA), Coninagro and Bolsa de Cereales, among others.
By Darío Aranda