- 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: PepsiCo India has agreed to withdraw its lawsuit against farmers in Gujarat whom it had accused of infringing its patent. Farmers’ rights activists have called it a major victory only if it’s unconditional.
Now, farmer groups have urged the Gujarat government to not opt for an out-of-court settlement with PepsiCo as the Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers Rights (PPV&FR) Act 2001 lets farmers cultivate any variety they like to, including the patented variety of potatoes, say activists.
What’s the issue?
The food and beverage multinational recently sued farmers in Gujarat for cultivating their proprietary FC5 variety of potatoes that are used to make Lay’s chips. This variety is designed to have less moisture and sugar content than other spuds.
PepsiCo had also proposed to settle in the last court hearing on April 26. The corporate giant’s offer had two terms. One, farmers should stop growing the registered potato variety and surrender their existing stocks. And if they wished to continue, they must enter PepsiCo’s collaborative farming programme where they buy seeds from the company and sell the produce back to it.
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: down to earth.