The Plant Growers Law commonly known as the ‘Monsanto Law’ has been withdrawn from Chilean Congress by the government, citing concerns over the rights of small and medium sized farmers.
Originally brought into Congress during President Michelle Bachelet’s first term in office (2006-2010). Supportors of the law maintain that it will bringing Chile in line with established international developments in agriculture law and ensure Chile remains competitive in the industry. However, those opposed claim the law largely benefits big seed developers to the detriment of small scale farmers.
“[The government has] withdrawn the Plant Growers Law from the legislative process, to conduct analysis that takes into account what is known both nationally and internationally in this area and that protects the rights of farming communities, small- and medium-farmers and our country’s seed heritage,” Secretary General to the Presidency Ximena Rincón told press.
While the law states that patents cannot be applied to existing seed, indigenous rights lawyer Ariel Leon points out that farmers may well be required to pay premiums on newly developed plants based on strains that Chilean farmers have been cultivating for generations.
The sale of domestically grown GM foods within Chile is prohibited, hoevever GMOs can be grown and exported for sale outside of the country, which is big business. Chile is one of the biggest exporters of transgenic seed in the world, and Monsanto now owns over a third of the market since entering the country in 2005.
Following the withdrawal of the law, Monsanto issued a press release denying that the company would benefit if the legislation were to pass.
“We want to clarify that the bill has no direct impact on the business or operations of our company in the country, but responds to international commitments by Chile regarding respect for intellectual property in agriculture,” Monsanto said.