Plant Varieties

The presumption on the property has been evolving for centuries. With the developments in the fields of biotechnology and plant breeding in developing countries, there has also been an increase in the cases of biotechnology and piracy of resources. This exploitation and illegal use of resources gave a right to the developed countries to use the technological innovations of the developed countries. Initially, plant variety management was excluded from the protection of intellectual property rights. The reasoning for not providing inclusion of the plant varieties under the Intellectual property rights was that the development of these plant varieties should not be based on the system seeking an individual appropriation of patents, as these were not inventions and do not qualify for protection under the patents and was compared to the traditional agricultural practices. It was only after the amendments in the TRIPS Agreement that the issue related to the protection of the plant varieties was addressed. There was no prior legislation in India that could provide protection to the plant varieties, and it was only after India became a member of the TRIPS and WTO, which made the nation-state adopt and make laws and regulations for providing protection to the plant varieties. India earlier had no specific provisions for providing protection to the plant variety, and it was only after a few international legislations, that India took an initiative for adopting proper legislation for the protection of plant varieties.

Subsequently, it was in 2001, when India introduced and enforced a system of regulations related to plant variety namely referred to as Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act, 2001 and was initially considered as an Act that was introduced under intense pressure. However, India is in compliance with the rules and regulations of the TRIPS Agreement chose a sui generis mechanism of rights with the purpose of acting as a defense, in case of any exploitation of the plant varieties, and gave a balance to the rights of both breeders and farmers.

The Act does not hold its relevance with the UPOV model and only provides its

accentuation with respect to the contribution in any forms of conserving, improving, and making or selling any kind of plant varieties by the farmers. The primary intent for introducing the act was for addressing the concerns of India for providing protection to the rights of small and marginal farmers. The Act has specifically provided protection to the three categories namely, the new plant varieties, extant varieties, and the varieties of the farmers that have been based on the public property concepts. The second most important provision in the Act is with respect to farmers’ varieties, wherein the act has defined the farmers from the perspective of public rights, wherein community property rights are created for the purpose of providing protection to the original varieties of the farmers.

The act has provided and recognized certain rights, which must be followed for protection. The rights are:

i.Breeder’s Rights: These are the rights of exclusivity given to breeders for the purpose of producing, selling, marketing, and distributing the variety that has been owned or produced by them.

ii.Researcher’s Rights: These are the rights accorded to the already registered variety and provide certain rights to the researchers.

iii.Farmers’ rights: These are the rights available to the farmers, in cases where there is a requirement for the registration of a variety produced by the farmers.

The varieties can only be eligible for registration where the variety fulfills the criteria of distinctiveness, uniformity, and stability.

Thus, it can be concluded by stating that the act has certain speculations which need to be addressed for its clear understanding. The act has provided protection to both the rights of the breeders and the farmers under a single piece of legislation. In a country, like India where there is an urgency for addressing the problems related to food security, there is a dire need for recognizing the rights of the farmers for their economic steadiness.