Japan Press Weekly
[Advanced search]
Past issues
Special issues
Fact Box
Feature Articles
Mail to editor
Mail magazine
HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 April 15 - 21  > Abe gov’t intends to turn Japan’s heirloom seeds into profits of multinational agribusinesses
> List of Past issues
Bookmark and Share
2020 April 15 - 21 [ECONOMY]

Abe gov’t intends to turn Japan’s heirloom seeds into profits of multinational agribusinesses

April 14 & 15, 2020
Farmers and citizens have been voicing their opposition to the Abe government move to revise the Plant Variety Protection and Seed Act to allow multinational agribusinesses to use Japan’s seeds to make profits.

Under a bill for the revision of the law which was introduced in the current ordinary Diet session, farmers will be prohibited in principle from using resultant crop seeds removed from government-designated varieties of crops for up to 25 years. They will have to purchase seeds from seed providers every year or pay licensing fees to breeders.

In the farm industry, multinational agribusinesses like Monsanto have bought up seed companies around the world. Three major agribusiness groups have been dominating the international seed and seedling market. The Abe government-proposed bill, if enacted, will force Japanese farmers to buy seeds from or pay licensing fees to these multinational agribusiness corporations that will own the patents.

Farmers opposing the bill have pointed out that purchases of necessary seeds will cost too much, which will lead to higher unit prices of farm products. In addition, there is an increasing concern that the bill will destroy the current seed development system under which the reproduction of seeds by farmers works to have seeds fit in well with the specific conditions of the local natural environment and cultivation methods in various areas in Japan.

Japan Family Farmers Movement (Nouminren) official Saito Toshiyuki pointed out, “The bill will undermine seed diversity. This will make it difficult for famers to provide a stable supply of agricultural products when natural disasters or crop diseases hit.” He expressed his determination to kill the bill in order also to protect consumers’ interests.

A civil group working to protect Japan’s traditional seeds on April 9 published a statement urging the Diet to refuse to begin discussions on the bill.

Pointing out that most Japanese farmers use seeds produced on their own farms, the statement states that if the bill is enacted, it will enable multinationals to obtain farmers’ knowledge regarding Japan’s local seeds stored in public organizations and legally take intellectual property out of Japan.

Past related articles:
> Enactment of local ordinance to revive Seed Act expanding nationwide [March 8, 2019]
> Abe gov’t moves to put Japan’s seed production into hands of multinational agribusinesses [April 11, 2017]
> List of Past issues
  Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved