Farmers’ Rights at Heart of Plant Breeding IP Debate; UPOV Ponders New Members, Communication Strategy
IP Watch, 29 October 2013

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) held a number of meetings last week, from 21-25 October, leading to the meeting of its Council, which is the UPOV governing body. Meetings included UPOV’s Administrative and Legal Committee, and its Consultative committee, both preparatory committees to the Council. New member requests were examined while civil society warned against a draft African legal framework on plant variety protection that they said could impact the dominant subsistence farming systems in some African states. In addition, during the week, a seminar was organised on “essentially derived” varieties (EDVs) of plants, showing the complexity of the definition of those varieties while civil society warned against rules that could endangers small farmers. The seminar explored the technical and legal aspects, while possible impacts on breeding and agriculture were presented by a number of different stakeholders including breeders’ association representatives, lawyers and civil society. Normita Gumasing Ignacio, executive director of South East Asia Regional Initiatives of Community Empowerment (SEARICE), said the dynamic informal seed system is threatened by the concept of EDVs. It limits the potential of farmers to adapt to changing environments, and threatens food security, she said, adding that preventing farmers to “freely generate EDVs from a protected variety is inequitable and unwise.” Ignacio also pointed out that “all of formal breeders’ breeding materials are derived to some extent from a farmers’ variety.” Read the article … Visit the seminar’s webpage, including links to documents and presentations …