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Tuesday, 3 April 1984
Page: 1081

The Acting Clerk-Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:

Plant Variety Rights

To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in parliament assembled. We the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth do humbly pray that the Commonwealth government

1. Uphold the principle that the seeds and cuttings of plants are a public resource and a common heritage to all and that accordingly seeds should be freely available to all, freely multipliable, able to be sold, exchanged, exported and imported by anyone who wishes. This is seen as a matter of national food security.

2. Recognise that plant breeding is a highly co-operative venture often involving private enterprise at the very last stages after basic seed collection , storage, and research has been publicly funded.

3. In view of the aforementioned paragraphs, recognise that any system giving ' property' or ownership rights over seeds to individuals, organisations or enterprises is inappropriate and unjust.

4. Recognise that legislation establishing plant patenting schemes overseas has had serious adverse effects namely:

(i) a slowing-down of scientific information exchange and exchanges in basic plant breeding materials, that is, germ plasm,

(ii) subordination and/or curtailment of public breeding programmes,

(iii) farmer unrest at seed prices,

(iv) monopoly control of seed production and sales has passed into the hands of giant petrochemical and drug corporations also marketing crop chemicals,

(v) increased uniformity of crop varieties leading to a vulnerability to pest and disease attack.

5. Reject any proposal to legislate for any system such as the draft Plant Variety Rights Act, which gives exclusive ownership rights over seeds to individuals, organisations or enterprises.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.