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Farmers’ rights and plant breeders’ rights

Kneen, Brewster (2009):
Farmers’ rights and plant breeders’ rights
Pp. 66-75 in Brewster Kneen: The Tyranny of Rights (Ottawa, Canada: The Ram's Horn)


In this chapter from his new book, “The Tyranny of Rights”, a comprehensive critique of the concept and language of rights, Canadian author Brewster Kneen argues that while the assertion of Farmers’ Rights may be intended to create the legal space for farmers to maintain their traditional practices of selecting, saving, and replanting seeds from year to year, these traditional ‘custodial responsibilities’ were never contingent on being granted as ‘rights’ by any authority. Only very recently have states and corporations endeavoured to take control of these traditional practices and replace them with corporately owned hybrids, patented varieties and genetically engineered seeds and outlaw the traditional and essential practices of farmers. Thus Farmers’ Rights are functionally a reactive claim for an exception to the capitalist laws of private property for profit that does not contest the legitimacy of such privatizing claims.

The book chapter can be downloaded here.
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Page last updated 29 October 2009