A number of countries face opposition by the public toward seed and seed-applied technologies. Two such countries include Canada and Ghana. Meanwhile, Pakistan is pleased to have leadership at the regional seed association.
During the last week of November, the government of Ontario proposed regulations to curtail the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments on corn and soybean seeds by 80 percent.
Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs proposed a three-point strategy to help ensure healthy ecosystems and a productive agricultural sector, while reducing the downward trend of honeybees and other pollinators.
The strategy includes: an 80 percent reduction in acreage planted with neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed by 2017; limiting the number of honeybees that die during the winter by 15 percent by 2020; and developing a comprehensive action plan for pollinator health.
According to the ministry, it will work with stakeholders on a proposal to reduce the use of neonicotinoid treated seeds and hopes to have new rules in place by July 1.
As of now, this means starting in 2016, farmers in Ontario who want to use neonicotinoid treated seed must take an integrated pest management course, prove that he or she is implementing the integrated pest management strategies and demonstrate that insect pressure on the farm is at a threshold that warrants the use of these seed treatments.
“It is possible for neonicotinoids to run off from fields to nearby water bodies where they can cause harm to aquatic insects and affect the animals that feed on those insects,” according to a government news release.
This is a slippery slope, says Dave Baute, president of the Canadian Seed Trade Association. “The sad truth is there is not science that supports the kind of knee-jerk reaction the province is taking,” Baute adds, noting that this only creates unnecessary burden for the province’s seed industry and threatens the economics of growing corn and soybeans in Central Canada.
Traditional women leaders oppose the use of genetically modified organisms in Ghana. The traditional leaders, representing all the 45 traditional sub divisions in the region, threatened to embark on series of demonstrations if their call to reject the Plant Breeders’ Rights bill, which is compliant with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, is ignored. They say the introduction of the Plant Breeder’s bill in its current form will pose a threat to public health, food security and the independence of small farmers.
Queen mothers in the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana have unanimously called on the country’s parliament to reject the Plant Bleeders’ Bill.
The president of the Queen Mothers Association of Brong-Ahafo Region, Nana Abena Boatemaa I, spoke at a two-day workshop for traditional women leaders in Environmental Management through Improved Hygiene and Ecological Sanitation. The workshop was organized by the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development in collaboration with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
Boatemaa says the association supports the position of the Regional House of Chiefs, which issued a communication July 9, 2014, advising Parliament to reject the bill.
Boatemaa, who is also the queen mother of Odomase No. 1 and national president of the Association of Women Traditional Leaders, indicated that members of the organization would do everything possible to resist the passage of the bill as they are prepared to move to Parliament to engage the MPs to withdraw the bill.
Several other groups have opposed the introduction of the Plant Breeders’ Bill on similar grounds. The Convention People’s Party (CPP), Food Sovereignty Ghana, The Coalition of Ghana Farmers Association, Movement for Farmers Right Against GMO Ghana, National House of Chiefs, Brong Ahafo Traditional Chiefs and many other civil societies in the country are among the many groups that have opposed the bill’s introduction.
Food Sovereignty Ghana reports that in a bill, it would like to see a clear statement of farmers rights and the absence of any form of criminalization of farmers, such as that in Clause 58 of the Plant Breeders’ Bill.
Experts say more than 166 countries, including Ghana’s leading trading partner, the European Union (EU), have officially banned genetically modified foods, making it even more disadvantageous for Ghana to embrace the technology.
STATUS NEW ZEALAND
At the turn of the 20th century, Akaroa cocksfoot, a sought after hardy grass, was one of the most significant industries in Canterbury, making an economic contribution of more than $10 million annually.
“Akaroa cocksfoot became the premium cocksfoot grass seed by giving a more permanent pasture with better year-round growth than the competing cocksfoot grasses of the day,” says historical geographer Vaughan Wood. “The payoff was, potentially, a very long-term one for those choosing it. Consumers were amenable to choosing quality over cost.”
It was one of the world’s most sought after grasses, according to Wood. Today, the industry has entirely disappeared from New Zealand’s Banks Peninsula; however, newer cocksfoot cultivars are still used for commercial seed production in New Zealand.
In his new book, “Akaroa Cocksfoot: King of grasses,” Wood explores the international cocksfoot seed markets in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He also explains the significance of this plant, its history and why the grass made a global impact.
During the 20th General Assembly of the Asia Pacific Seed Association, which was held in Macau, China, the 13-member executive committee unanimously elected Pakistan’s Tahir Saleemi, director of HajiSons, to its ranks.
Saleemi says his election to the Asia Pacific Seed Association’s executive committee will help to ensure that Pakistan plays an active role in the regional seed association. HajiSons is a family-owned company that got its start in 1955 through farming.
According to the company, its adoption of partial to complete mechanization and new technology in farming has been key to their success. In 1984, HajiSons began distributing pesticides, seeds and fertilizer. Today, the company is a full-service retailer for local farmers with multiple locations.
Established in 1994 in Thailand, the Asia Pacific Seed Association, also known as APSA, aims to facilitate policies among member countries on issues such as plant breeders’ rights, seed testing, seed quality and production improvements. The association comprises more than 1,500 members from 46 countries. Through its work, the broader mission of APSA is to help address food security issues. SW