Bill C-18, the Agriculture Growth Act, passed in the House of Commons this week. C-18 grants seed breeding companies, which are increasingly large, multinational corporations, the exclusive right to produce, save, process, and stock seed. The law brings Canada’s Plant Breeder Rights Act up in harmony with international free trade agreements as they pertain to plants as intellectual property, and could require farmers to pay end-point royalties on earnings obtained from seed owned by a corporation. Farmers across the country are alarmed about the way that the policy will affect their autonomy, and the increasing control of genetic diversity by corporations.

We spoke with Saskatchewan-based grain farmer and Chair of National Farmers’ Union’s Seed and Trade Committee Terry Boehm about the implications of the law, which he says will be extremely difficult for farmers to challenge in court. Boehm noted that C-18 could allow multinational seed companies to seize a farmer’s entire crop without judicial action if the crop were to display characteristics of a privately registered plant variety.

Then we spoke with Jean-Eudes Chiasson, president of the National Farmers’ Union in New Brunswick about the impact of intellectual property legislation on farmers in New Brunswick. Chiasson says that he thinks the majority of New Brunswick farmers are “asleep” and unaware of the way that C-18 will affect them.

Terry Boehm