Plant Varieties

Law – Protection of Plant varieties and farmers’ right Act, 2001

Ministry – Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture

With the advent of hybrid and genetically modified plants, it is possible to create different quality plants of same genus or species. There have been unending quest of developing plant varieties that are more productive, more fortified with nutrients, more resistant to vagaries of nature and are reasonably priced. Such development demands lot of expenditure and time just like any other patentable invention. TRIPS agreement says that either a member should cover plant variety in domestic patent law or it should be provided a sui- generis protection. Accordingly, India’s patent law doesn’t cover plant varieties and POPVFR act provides a sui-generis protection.

In order to provide for the establishment of 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 it has been considered necessary to recognize and to protect the rights of the 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. The Govt. of India enacted “The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001” adopting sui generis system.   Indian legislation is not only in conformity with International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), 1978, but also has sufficient provisions to protect the interests of public/private sector breeding institutions and the farmers. 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.”

‘Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Right Authority’ has been created under the act. Application can be made (by farmer, breeders) to authority to claim protection on a particular plant variety.

Indian law not only provides for the rights of breeders’ and researchers’, but it also provides the right to seed to farmers and village communities. Registering the variety under the authority offers certain protection to its growers under the law. Notable among them is that if any breeder, including seed companies, use this variety for producing hybrid varieties, its growers are entitled for a royalty from the breeder.

As such, plant varieties present in wilderness cannot be registered under PPV&FR Authority. However, any traditionally cultivated plant variety which has undergone the process of domestication /improvement through human interventions can be registered and protected and subjected to fulfilment of the eligible criteria.

The Central Government has notified 57 crops with their genera and species eligible for registration as new varieties.