Abe government’s agriculture policy is temporarily crippled; suspended is the plan
to precede fostering further competitiveness rather than protecting agriculture
and farmers. Opposing voices raised by farmers and consumers as well have succeeded
in halting enactment of the bill to amend the Seeds and Seedlings Law during
the recently adjourned ordinary session of the Diet. The bill is put on the
agenda for next debates.
TO PUT JAPANESE AGRICULTURE ON SALE
Abe government has proclaimed that ‘Japan could make herself the best
place for businesses to make money’. The policy has been implemented at the
expense of the working population in the country. The agricultural sector and
farmers are exposed to risks, too: recent enforcing events include abolition of
the Main Crop Seeds Act and legislation of the Agricultural Competitiveness
Strengthening and Support Law.
of Main Crop Seeds Act
law obligates the state and local governments to take responsibility for seed
distribution to farmers of major crops for a purpose of a stable supply of
rice, wheat and soybeans. It was legislated soon after the WWII, in 1952, to
set up agricultural experimental stations and other facilities in every prefecture.
They have engaged in costly and time-consuming tasks, including maintenance of excellent
breeds, improvements and R&D.
seeds act was abandoned in 2018 in spite of harsh protesting opinions presented
by farmers and relevant associations. Thus, seed production of rice, wheat and
soybeans was to be entrusted to private seed companies, including multinational
giants, like Monsanto-Byern, DuPont and Syngenta.
to the new steps, social movements grew extensively in the country to promulgate
‘a local seed law’ in order to revive the scrapped act; 17 municipalities have issued
ordinances, including Hokkaido, and another four
local bodies, including Kochi
Prefecture, prepare for
going hand in hand with the elimination of the seeds law, the Agriculture
Competitiveness Strengthening and Support Law was implemented. This law
stipulates that the state-and-prefecture-led experimental farms should share information
of researches on development and production of seeds and seedlings with private
companies, including foreign enterprises.
issue for farmers
more sinister attack to farmers is the revision of the Seeds and Seedlings Law.
The current one specifies that a person or a firm who/which has developed a new
breed of crop is protected by the right of creator, if he/she/it registers it.
And producers have enjoyed the right of farmer when they grow and develop seeds
and seedlings domestically, as the practice is well admitted. After the
revision, however, such a routine will be banned across the board.
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries explains reasons why the bill
was presented; it says the bill will settle disputes coming from the excellent
species, such as, of strawberries, the Tochi-Otome, in particular, and grapes, Shine-Muscat,
which may be sneaked out overseas and then be imported back, affecting Japanese
farmers and registrants with huge losses.
on farmers’ seed production do not prevent seeds and seedlings from flowing out
of the country. Meanwhile, the law, binding farmers to share information on seeds
of rice and wheat with multinational corporations, produces a plight in which
farmers have no choice but buy seeds from these corporations. The Abe
government’s policy is not compatible.
a farmer is prohibited to grow seeds, he will be obliged to pay royalties or
buy expensive seeds and seedlings. This is a vital issue.