Back to serfdom

Under the title For farmers, to resow seeds coming from one’s own harvest will be forbidden or subject to a levy, the French daily newspaper Le Monde announces that as I feared, the Parliament adopted1 provisions that prohibit or subject to a levy the fact of resowing seeds coming from harvesting crops whose original seeds were covered by a COV. Le Monde’s news item is very confused, as it states that such resowing was already illegal, when the minister of agriculture himself declared to justify the provision that these seeds “can no longer be free of rights as they are today”.

It is not sure that the MPs have all fully understood what they have just reestablished serfdom in France, no longer serfdom towards the aristocrat owners of land, but this time towards the industrial holders of COV. The true background of this story is the unending hatred against non-market activities, the fact that, for market and property fundamentalists, a free act of individuals that does not lead to revenues for “owners” is stealing, since they can describe it as a substitute to buying new seeds.

Beyond the revolt that these measures and this way of thinking should trigger for every citizen, they shed light on many other domains. The war against sharing and reusing digital works can be see as the institution of a cultural serfdom. It is time, urgent time, for public policy and society to organize production and sharing, in culture as well as in agriculture, on other bases, respectful of freedom and of the immense social value of non-market activities.

This post is also available in: French

  1. In the frame of a law on Vegetal Varieties Obtention Certificates (COV). []

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