A Canadian Bishop Will Serve as the Voice for 256,000 Canadians Opposed to Patenting Life Forms

Tuesday, September 02 2003

Bishop Luc CyrTORONTO / September 2, 2003 — Canada must take a firm stand to oppose the patenting of seeds and other life forms during next week’s World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Meeting negotiations on TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights).

Bishop Luc Cyr of Valleyfield, Qué, will stress this point at the September 10 to 14 meeting in Cancún, where he will represent the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the Canadian Catholic Organization for DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE (CCODP).

Bishop Cyr will serve as the voice for 256,319 DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE members and supporters who sent petition-postcards to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien during the past year calling on Ottawa to stop corporations from patenting seeds and life forms.

“These people know that patents on life forms are unethical and unacceptable, and that patenting staple food crops such as corn, potatoes and rice will lead to increased hunger for poor farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America,” Bishop Cyr said. “It will force millions of poor farmers to buy products from corporations that they used to exchange freely among themselves at the end of each harvest — a cost-efficient practice that has been followed since the start of time.”

The ban on seed patents is also supported by the WTO’s Africa Group (i.e. all African nations that belong to the WTO).

“The Cancún meeting is a last-ditch effort to exclude the patenting of life forms from TRIPS,” Bishop Cyr added, “and as such we urge the government to defend the position taken by thousands of concerned Canadians.

“In my role as a representative of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, I consider it essential to remind people that trade should be a tool to serve humanity, and not vice-versa. This conviction lies at the heart of our Christian commitment.”

In addition to Bishop Cyr, the four-member delegation is composed of DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE Latin American Programs Coordinator Paul Cliche, Education Department Programme Coordinator Hélène Gobeil and Researcher Mary Durran. DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE will be one of 90 Canadian NGOs present in Cancún to monitor the progress of the WTO meetings.

Development and Peace is a Canadian Catholic organization founded 35 years ago by the bishops to promote international solidarity and aid.

For additional information:
TORONTO: Jack Panozzo (416) 922-1592 jack.panozzo@devp.org
MONTREAL: François Gloutnay (514) 257-8711 francois.gloutnay@devp.org