ISLAMABAD: The development of new plant varieties and the rights of their breeders have been protected for the first time in Pakistan with the adoption of the ‘Plant Breeders’ Right Bill’ by the Senate on Wednesday.
The new law will encourage plant breeders and seed organizations of both public and private sectors to invest in research and plant breeding; development of superior varieties of field, vegetable and ornamental crops; and facilitate access to protected foreign varieties and new technologies.
With the adoption of the bill by both houses of parliament, it will become Plant Breeders’ Rights Act of 2016 after president’s assent, which is largely a formality.
Establishment of a viable seed industry is essential to the food security in Pakistan to ensure the availability of high-quality seeds and planting material to the farmers. It is necessary to make provisions for developing the breeding of new plant varieties, protecting the rights of their breeders and providing exemptions to them.
To comply with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, the government has already introduced several laws in the field of intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, copyright and industrial designs. Under the agreement, Pakistan is also required to provide intellectual property rights to the breeders of new plant varieties.
The new act will facilitate access to protected foreign varieties and new technologies; creating healthy competition for variety development among public and private sector organisations; facilitate in generating revenues for research institutes and financial incentives for plant breeders; and effectively control menace of counterfeiting in the seed sector for betterment of farmer community and food security in the country.
Under the act, the federal government will establish the ‘Plant Breeders’ Rights Registry’ under the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to facilitate protection of new plant varieties and issue certificates.
A plant variety protection advisory committee will also be established with members from the public and private sectors to advise the ministry of the registry on scientific and technical issues.