Farmers Group Urges Government to Safeguard Farmers’ Rights

The MADA Farmers’ Action Committee strongly urges the Malaysian government not to join the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of 1991 (UPOV 1991) that is detrimental to the interests of small farmers.

We are very concerned that UPOV 1991 favours big seed companies and commercial plant breeders of  rich developed countries’ and does not protect the rights and interests of small farmers of developing countries such as Malaysia.

In the past, the Malaysian government had correctly decided against joining UPOV 1991 and already has in place the our own law called ‘Protection of New Plant Varieties Act 2004’ (PNPV Act).

We understand that this 2004 PNPV law provides for rights to be given to commercial breeders for any new plant variety they create, it also protects seed varieties created through breeding by traditional farmers, local communities or indigenous peoples.

By joining UPOV 1991, our local law would have to be drastically changed and will wipe out the rights of traditional and small farmers, and give rights to commercial breeders and big corporations against the our interests.

This will further undermine the ability of our local farmers and indigenous communities to provide food security for the country.

It will also lead to greater dependence on foreign seed companies and big corporations in carrying out our agriculture.

For generations, traditional farmers and local communities have been developing and adapting plant varieties to suit our local needs and conditions, which is also important in promoting biodiversity and in adapting to the impact of climate change.

We also understand that the Malaysian government is already a party to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources on Food and Agriculture, and must therefore live up to that international commitment to implement farmers’ rights including our right to participate in making decisions, at the national level, on matters related to plant genetic resources.

We are unaware of any effort by the government to consult our farmers on these important issues affecting our rights, livelihoods and food security.

We therefore strongly call on the government to immediately halt all processes to join UPOV 1991 and urgently safeguard the rights of small farmers.


Media Statement, 21 February 2017