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`Plant Varieties Act is farmer-friendly'

Our Bureau

To safeguard IPRs of breeders and scientists

Hyderabad , Aug 7

The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights (PVPFR) Act has been promulgated to safeguard the intellectual property rights (IPRs) of plant breeders and scientists and protect the rights of the farming community, according to Mr R.K. Sinha, Executive Director of All-India Crop Biotechnology Association (AICBA).

He added that the Act protects the rights of the farmers along with their freedom to cultivate, share or sell their farm produce.

"Under the provisions of the Act, a farmer has the right to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under the Act in the same manner as he was entitled before the PVPFR Act came into force." He was addressing presspersons on the occasion of a daylong workshop on the Act with the objective of creating awareness among key stakeholders on the nuances of the Act and the rights and obligations of the farmers and plant breeders with respect to their IPRs.

According to him, the Act provided for the exercise of the rights of the farmers in the same manner as they were entitled before the Act came into force.

However, the farmer is prevented from selling branded seeds, he added.

The Act has developed a harmonious construction with the Environment Protection Act so that the environment is fully protected.

Under the Environment Protection Act for genetically modified organisms, every person dealing or using genetically engineered organism has to first obtain the approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee of the Government, Mr Sinha said.

Mr Deepak Mullick, Director (International Affairs), Association of Seed Industry, said that the Act also works in the interests of the industry, making it more competitive.

Only when breeders' rights are protected under the Act and they are compensated for the use of their protected varieties by others will they be motivated to invest in further research for newer products benefiting the farmers. Then there would be more varieties in the market and the best ones would survive, making the industry competitive, he said.

Mr Mullick also said that the Act is highly transparent, wherein sufficient time of at least two years would be given for all the stakeholders raise objections, if any, before granting registration of IPRs for a person or entity.

The registrations thus granted would be valid for 15 years for crops and 18 years for trees and shrubs, he said.

Mr Sinha said that the Act is slowly being implemented and the authority appointed is in the process of making regulations to govern the issues incorporated in the Act.

While the board framework exists, the nuts and bolts of the Act are currently being put in place.

The regulations prepared by the authority under Section 25 of the Act would be placed before Parliament for approval during the monsoon or winter sessions, he said.

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