Senate body approves Plant Breeders Rights Act
ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Division on Wednesday approved the Plant Breeders Rights Act 2015, giving protection to seed breeding companies with an amendment to protect farmers from the provision of substandard seeds.
The proposed law is aimed at establishing a viable seed industry in Pakistan, essential for food security and availability of high-quality seeds and planting material to the farmers.
It will also protect intellectual property rights of seed companies that introduce new varieties. The draft bill will now be tabled in parliament for its passage.
In the meeting, officials of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research and provincial governments revealed that Bt cotton seeds were being illegally supplied in the market, particularly by a foreign company.
At present, there is no law to keep a check on poor quality seeds and also there has been no official permission for sale of Bt cotton seeds in the market.
The foreign company had been doing illegal trade in Bt cotton seeds in Pakistan and this was a factor behind the fall in cotton production, added the officials.
Committee Chairman MNA Mohammad Hayat Khan said he had himself purchased Bt cotton seeds for Rs10,000 per kg but these proved substandard and damaged his cotton production largely.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MNA Asad Umar, among many other amendments, also proposed to include a clause in the bill for punishing the companies involved in providing substandard seeds in the market.
The committee chairman, while agreeing to the proposal, said, “If you give rights to the plant breeders, then provisions must also be there for penalising those who are involved in illegal practices.” Representatives of the Kisan Ittehad Council and Kisan Ittehad Board noted that the proposed law lacked any check and balance in terms of the price of seeds, which would encourage the companies to exploit the farmers.
Kisan Ittehad Board representative Sarfaraz Ahmed suggested a price evaluation and regulation committee to check and maintain seed prices.
According to the bill, there will be provisions for breeding new plant varieties and protecting the rights including exemptions. Under the law, a registrar office will be established in Islamabad with sub-offices in the provinces.
The registrar offices will facilitate registration of new plant varieties, issue certificates under the Act, ensure maintenance of the register of protected plant varieties and promote development of new varieties of plants.
Furthermore, the offices will also manage documentation of varieties protected under the Act to collect statistics with regard to plant varieties, including the contribution of any person to the development of any plant variety in Pakistan or any other country, for compilation and publication.