Friday, Oct 30 @ 3:30 PM
Farmers, especially women, nurtured Seeds from the beginning of agriculture i.e. 10,000-14,000 years ago. They domesticated wild species into plant varieties used in agriculture and we cherish benefits of this crop diversity as our Food. Agro-diversity evolved over generations also has uses in our culture, medicines, industry and commerce.
In modern times, plant breeders are using this agro-diversity to create more varieties. Today gene banks have collections of these varieties, and these are not in the control of farmers.
With the advancement of plant breeding and gene technologies along with commercialisation & commodification of seed, there is unprecedented and growing interest in claiming ownership on this gift of nature and heritage bestowed by ancestral communities. The very DNA in each plant variety is a matter of commerce as well as claiming intellectual ownership over it.
Meanwhile, farm groups are trying to ensure that the rights over seed should not be snatched away from the real custodians of the seeds i.e. the farmers. Indian law prohibits patents on plants and animals. At the same time, official policy dictates that innovation needs IP protection which is an unfortunate reality of the present world.
To balance the rights of farmers and breeders, and to meet WTO commitments, Government of India enacted Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act 2001, which is a very unique statute where famers’ rights are embedded in a plant varietal protection law.
In 2018 & 2019, some Gujarat potato farmers were sued by an MNC, claiming infringement of the breeder’s right granted to it under PPV&FR Act. Although the MNC had to withdraw all the cases unconditionally due to public pressure, the episode was enough to raise a question on whether the Act is really equipped to fulfil its mandate.
It is clear that Farmers’ Seed Rights need to be fully protected in India, which is an important concern for ASHA. This Webinar is against this backdrop
Founder Director, Gene Campaign, New Delhi
Former Registrar General
Former Director, Indian Institute of Oilseeds Research(ICAR)
Legal Reasearcher & Policy Analyst,New Delhi
Webinar/Workshop organized by: Food, Farmers & Freedom
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