Asian Seed Congress 2017

Standing Committee: Intellectual Property Rights & Biodiversity Meeting

Casper van Kempen (Co-Chair) and Dr. Arvind Kapur (Chair)
Ms. Anke van den Hurk clarified advantages of genetic resource treaties.
Michel Devarrewaere of East-West Seed.

At APSA’s IPR & Biodiversity Standing Committee meeting, three expert speakers led discussions on the vital topics of Intellectual Property Rights and Biodiversity.

Dr. Arvind Kapur, Managing Director of Acsen HyVeg Pvt Ltd. and Chair of the APSA Standing Committee on IPR & Biodiversity is outspoken on the subject of farmers’ rights and privileges and has examined comparisons between farm-saved seeds and certified seeds from seed companies.

Dr. Kapur said that while in the past, farmers traditionally saved crop seeds to plant each season,  now they are more likely to buy seeds annually. Hybrid seeds can be more costly but have genetic benefits that can ensure better yield productivity, he said.

Citing Indian and Canadian studies, Dr. Kapur presented on the use of farm-saved seeds in terms of UPOV and national IPR regimes and their disadvantages in terms of farmers’ lack of knowledge about genetics, and storage issues. The presentation fuelled some lively discussions among delegates.

Next, Ms. Anke van den Hurk, Deputy Director of Plantum, presented an overview of the current status of several international IPR treaties and legislation and the consequences these could have for seed companies. Ms. Anke also touched on the subject of farmers’ rights, saying that these should be implemented at the national level and that each country should have its own structure.

Tomochika Motomura of UPOV

In terms of legislation, there was some disagreement on gene biodiversity such as using GMO crops in developed countries, while most developing countries were against it. Overall, there was no
agreement regarding the establishment of standardised legislation. Ms. Anke van den Hurk encouraged the private sector and the public sector to be more interdependent.

Next, Tomochika Motomura, Technical / Regional Officer of UPOV, gave an update on his organisation, which covered registration and regulatory trends and challenges in Asia.

The session concluded with a presentation on the IPR perspectives of the “APSA Vegetable Seed Crop Production Best Practices Guidelines” from Mr. Michel Devarrewaere, who is Vice President of East-West Seed International Ltd. The guidelines highlighted important factors in the relationships among seed companies, producers and farmers. Mr. Michel also mentioned other ongoing priorities of the group, such as child labour, phytosanitary measures and other regulatory issues.

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