Chile: Von Baer Privatises Quinoa


Pía Figueroa – Pressenza Int’l Press Agency

The privatisation of Chilean seed has become a scandal and paves the way for the arrival of genetically modified products. After the realisation that, as well as the North American company Monsanto, the patents for Chilean crops are in the hands of people linked to the government who will now benefit from the privatisation of seed, as in the case of Ena Von Baer’s father.

The subject was brought into the open with questions of corruption when the representative for “Chile sin Transgénicos” (Chile without Genetically Modified Products), Christián Suavageot, reported on the “El Semáforo” programme on Radio Universidad de Chile, that of the total of more than 700 registered seeds, Quinoa now belongs to Erick Von Baer, the father of the minister for the Government General Secretariat, until 2016.

“Semillas Baer” has registered almost twenty varieties which include different types of oats, barley and a large variety of wheat.

Sauvageot highlighted that the controversial agreement is being ratified because it is part of the obligation of the free Trade Treaties that Chile signed, but this obligation does not consider other Treaties which protect the rights of farmers, who will now have to pay the patent owners in order to plant the products.

Sauvageot stressed the need for the new legislation to create a balance between plant breeders and farmers.

Moreover, a group of opposition senators will appeal to the Constitutional Court to block the announcement of the ratification of this Agreement.

The PPD senator, Jaime Quintana, explained to Radio Universidad de Chile that “Agreement 169 has constitutional status, and this rule which Chile has just approved is a treaty with legal status. With this difference and supremacy of one rule over another, we must look at what Agreement 169 says, when rights are going to be ignored or practices are going to come into force, in this case the farming world, particularly among the indigenous community, the communities must be consulted. This was not done in this case, instead they voted without listening to genuine representations from the farming community, both indigenous and non-indigenous”.

Parliament stressed that this Agreement did not legally require ratification, and this was only done due to pressure from large economic groups who want to produce genetically modified food in Chile (like Monsanto), which corresponds to the background debate.

Translated from Spanish by Kirsty Cumming

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