Venezuela's 'people as legislators' ban GMOs, protect traditional seeds
William Camacaro, Frederick B. Mills & Christina M. Schiavoni
2nd January 2015
A radical new Seed Law drafted by Venezuelan people, farmers and NGOs was signed into law in the closing days of 2015, write William Camacaro, Frederick B. Mills & Christina M. Schiavoni. Striking back against the corporate takeover of seeds and peddling of GMOs, the Seed Law bans transgenic seeds, protects the country's germplasm, and establishes the legal foundation for a participatory, agroecological food and farming system.
History is being made in Venezuela. Not only is the law extraordinary in and of itself, but that it was passed at this very moment, in the face of adverse circumstances both globally and nationally, makes it all the more remarkable.
The National Assembly of Venezuela, in its final session before a neoliberal dominated opposition takes the helm of legislative power this week on 5th January, passed one of the most progressive seed laws in the world on 23rd December 2015. It was promptly signed into law by President Nicolas Maduro.
On 29th December, during his television show, 'In Contact with Maduro, number 52', Maduro said that the new seed law provides the conditions to produce food "under an agro-ecological model that respects the Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) and the right of our children to grow up healthy, eating healthy."
The law is a victory for the international movements for agroecology and food sovereignty because it bans transgenic (GMO) seed while protecting local seed from privatization.
The law is also a product of direct participatory democracy - 'the people as legislator' - in Venezuela, because it was hammered out through a deliberative partnership between members of the country's National Assembly and a broad-based grassroots coalition of eco-socialist, peasant, and agroecological oriented organizations and institutions.
This essay provides an overview of the phenomenon of 'the people as legislator', a summary of the new Seed Law, and an appendix with an unofficial translation of some of the articles of the law.