Futures of Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer’s Rights Act, 2001


Futures of Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer’s Rights Act, 2001

The main features of this Act are briefly summarised below:

1. Registration of farmers’ varieties, extent varieties and new varieties of such genera and species as notified in the official gazette by the central government. A farmer’s variety is a variety that has been traditionally cultivated and evolved by farmers, or is a wild relative or land race in common knowledge of farmers. An extant variety is a notified variety, a farmers variety, a variety about which there is common knowledge, or any other variety that is in public domain. Registration of the extant varieties will be done within a specified period and subject to their meeting the criteria of distinctiveness, uniformly and stability.

2. A new variety shall be registered if it meets the criteria of novelty , distinctiveness, uniformity and stability. The criterion of novelty requires a variety to be in commercial use for less than one year in India, or 4 years ( 6 years in case of trees and vines ) outside India.

The variety must be distinguishable for at least one essential characteristic from any other variety whose existence is a common knowledge in any country (distinctiveness). Essential characteristic is a heritable trait that contributes to the principal feature, performance or value of the plant variety. Further a variety in ‘ common knowledge ‘means any variety for which an application for grant of PBR or for entering the variety in the official register of varieties has been filed in any convention country. The criteria of uniformity and stability are essentially comparable to those for UPOV (1991).

3. Any variety that involve any technology including ‘genetic’ use restriction and terminator technologies, which is injuries to the life or health of human beings, animal or plants shall not be registered.

4. A variety that has been ‘essentially – derived from an ‘initial variety’ can be registered as a new variety. The breeder of such a variety must obtain authorization from the breeder of the initial variety. The definition of an essentially – derived variety is comparable to that given for UPOV Acts with an additional clarification that such a variety must be distinguishable from the ‘Initial variety’ and otherwise conform to the latter in the expression of heritable essential characteristics.

5. The duration of protection of the varieties will be 15 yr for the extant varieties, 18 yr for varieties of trees and vines and 15 yr for varieties of other crops.

6. Registration of a variety confers on the breeder of that variety or his successor or his agent or license an exclusive right to produce, sell, market , distribute import or export the variety. Apparently, the protection is not limited to seed or propagules and extends to all material of the protected variety, this feature of PPVFR Act ( 2001) is similar to that of UPOV Act ( 1991).

7. The provision for researcher rights allows any person to use any registered variety for research and for creation of new varieties, except essentially – derived varieties, without paying any royalty to the PBR holder.

8. The Act recognize the farmer’s rights in the following respects.

i) Registration of farmer’s varieties.
ii) Reward from the ‘national gene fund’ for those farmers who are ‘engaged in the conservation of genetic resources of land races and wild relatives of economic plants and their improvement through selection and preservation’ provided that the ‘materials so selected and preserved have been used as donors of genes in varieties registered under this Act’.
iii) Freedom of farmers ‘ to save , use , sow , resow, exchange, share or sell’ their ‘farm produce, including , seed ( except for ‘branded seed’) of a variety protected under this Act in the same manner’ as they were ‘entitled before the coming into force of this Act’.
iv) Requirement for the breeder to disclose to the farmers the expected performance of the variety under given conditions; farmers can claim compensation if this expectation is not fulfilled.

9. The procedure for making a ‘claim attributable to the contribution in the evolution of any variety’ and seeking reward from the ‘gene fund’ has been specified.

10. The central government is to constitute a National Gene Fund from the earnings of benefit sharing of registered varieties, annual fee paid to the authority by the breeder’s of registered varieties, compensation deposited in the fund, and contributions form National and International Organisation. The gene fund shall be used for paying compensation to communities for their contribution to the development of a variety for benefit sharing (as determined under the provision of this Act) and for ‘conservation’ and sustainable use of genetic resources’ and for ‘ strengthening the capability of Panchayat in carrying out such conservation and sustainable use’.     

11. Compulsory license may be granted after three years of registration of a variety if seeds of the variety are not available to the public either in adequate quantity or at a reasonable price.

12. The central Government shall establish the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer’s Rights Authority. It shall be the duty of the authority to promote the development of new varieties of plants and to protect the rights of the farmers and breeders.

13. The central Government shall establish a Plant Varieties registry for the registration of plant varieties. The registry shall maintain a ‘ National register of Plant Varieties’ containing names of all registered varieties, names and address of their breeder’s and other relevant details.

14. The breeder shall be required to deposit specified quantities of seeds/ propagules of the registered variety as well as its parental line in the National Gene Bank as specified by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Right’s Authority.

15. Citizens of convention countries will have the same rights as citizens of India under the Act. A convention country is a country that is member of such an international convention for protection of plant varieties to which India is also a member , or a country with which India has agreed to grant PBR to citizens of both the countries.

16. Applications for registration of a variety may be made in India, within, 12 months from the date of application for registration of the same plant variety made in convention country. If such a variety is registered, the date of registration in India shall be the date of application in the convention country.

17. The rights of PBR holder ‘shall not be deemed infringed by a farmer who at the time of such infringement was not aware existence of such right’.

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