- IPR related issues.
Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Key features of the act and the need for protection of farmers’ rights.
Context: A group of farmer organisations and civil society representatives upped the ante against PepsiCo India after the MNC filed lawsuits against four potato growers from Sabarkantha district for allegedly growing a variety of potato — FL 2027, also called FC5 — on which PepsiCo claimed exclusive rights by virtue of a Plant Variety Certificate (PVC) under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001.
What’s the issue?
PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd uses the registered variety of potatoes called FL 2027, which is a hybrid of FL 1867 and Wischip varieties, for manufacturing chips for its brand.
The company is the registered breeder of FL 2027 under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001. This entitles it to an exclusive right over the registered variety. farmers are not authorised to grow this variety. By growing these potatoes without licence, the farmers in Gujarat are violating its statutory rights.
Nearly 200 civil society representatives and farm leaders have written to the Centre for intervention. Farmers groups are pointing out that the law allows them to grow and sell any variety of crop or even seed as long as they don’t sell branded seed of registered varieties.
The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001:
- Enacted by India in 2001 adopting sui generis system.
- It is in conformity with International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), 1978.
- The legislation recognizes the contributions of both commercial plant breeders and farmers in plant breeding activity and also provides to implement TRIPs in a way that supports the specific socio-economic interests of all the stakeholders including private, public sectors and research institutions, as well as resource-constrained farmers.
Objectives of the PPV & FR Act, 2001:
- To establish an effective system for the protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders and to encourage the development of new varieties of plants.
- To recognize and protect the rights of farmers in respect of their contributions made at any time in conserving, improving and making available plant genetic resources for the development of new plant varieties.
- To accelerate agricultural development in the country, protect plant breeders’ rights; stimulate investment for research and development both in public & private sector for the development new of plant varieties.
- Facilitate the growth of seed industry in the country which will ensure the availability of high quality seeds and planting material to the farmers.
Rights under the Act:
Breeders’ Rights : Breeders will have exclusive rights to produce, sell, market, distribute, import or export the protected variety. Breeder can appoint agent/ licensee and may exercise for civil remedy in case of infringement of rights.
Researchers’ Rights : Researcher can use any of the registered variety under the Act for conducting experiment or research. This includes the use of a variety as an initial source of variety for the purpose of developing another variety but repeated use needs prior permission of the registered breeder.
- A farmer who has evolved or developed a new variety is entitled for registration and protection in like manner as a breeder of a variety;
- Farmers variety can also be registered as an extant variety;
- A farmer can save, use, sow, re-sow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under the PPV&FR Act, 2001 in the same manner as he was entitled before the coming into force of this Act provided farmer shall not be entitled to sell branded seed of a variety protected under the PPV&FR Act, 2001;
- Farmers are eligible for recognition and rewards for the conservation of Plant Genetic Resources of land races and wild relatives of economic plants;
- There is also a provision for compensation to the farmers for non-performance of variety under Section 39 (2) of the Act, 2001 and
- Farmer shall not be liable to pay any fee in any proceeding before the Authority or Registrar or the Tribunal or the High Court under the Act.
Sources: the Hindu.