Researchers say farmers in developing countries are losing one of their best hopes to limit the impacts of climate change because of growing corporate control of the seeds they plant. The researchers � from the International Institute for Environment and Development and partner organisations in China, India, Kenya, Panama and Peru � say the diversity of traditional seed varieties is falling fast and this means valuable traits such as drought and pest resistance could be lost forever. "Where farming communities have been able to maintain their traditional varieties, they are already using them to cope with the impacts of climate change," says project leader Krystyna Swiderska of IIED. "But more commonly, these varieties are being replaced by a smaller range of 'modern' seeds that are heavily promoted by corporations and subsidised by governments. These seeds have less genetic diversity yet need more inputs such as pesticides and fertilisers and more natural resources such as land and water." The researchers say that one reason for this is that while the international treaty on the protection of new varieties of plants � known as UPOV � protects the profits of powerful private corporations it fails to recognise and protect the rights and knowledge of poor farmers. "Western governments and the seed industry want to upgrade the UPOV Convention to provide stricter exclusive rights to commercial plant breeders," says Krystyna Swiderska. "This will further undermine the rights of farmers and promote the loss of seed diversity that poor communities depend on for their resilience to changing climatic conditions."


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