POP: UPOV 91
Res #: POP 5-14A
Responses Received: No
Departments: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
WHEREAS Bill C-18 is an omnibus agricultural Bill and deals with many aspects of agriculture legislation. For example, allowing organizations or foreign governments to change regulations, allowing third parties to determine food safety implementing the majority of UPOV ’91; and
WHEREAS since the Federal Government has been unsuccessful at getting Canadians to accept the Canada European Trade Agreement (CETA, it is changing legislation to comply with CETA; and
WHEREAS, for example, the section of CETA known as UPOV’91 takes away the ‘right’ of farmers to save, clean and store seed and allows for the seizure of all of the farmer’s assets in the event of a seed company making a claim, without proof, that a farmers has violated the agreement; and
WHEREAS it is clear that the Federal Government is implementing parts of CETA (UPOV’91) without declaring all of its language-such as to merely making it a ‘privilege’ to save, clean and store seed – so it it seems to be less innocuous but in reality the remainder of these ‘privileges’ can be taken away without a debate in parliament, only with an Order In Council;
BE IT RESOLVED that SARM immediately actively lobby to have Bill C-18 defeated and have the various aspects of the Bill brought back as individual Bills with increased clearness as to what is being changed so farmers can have the time to determine how it will affect them.
RESPONSE FROM HONORABLE GERRY RITZ, MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE & AGRI-FOOD CANADA
First of all, I would like to clarify that, in contrast with what is stated in the preamble of SARM's Resolution No.5, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is neither related to the 1991 Convention of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 91) nor will it in any way affect a farmer's ability or inability to save, sell, exchange or reuse seed.
To support the agricultural sector, on December 9, 2013, the Government of Canada tabled Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, which includes amendments to bring the Plant Breeders' Rights Act (PBRA) into conformity with UPOV 91. Strengthening the intellectual property rights for plant breeding in Canada will encourage investment in Canadian research and development. It will also help motivate foreign breeders to protect and sell their varieties here in Canada. This will give Canadian farmers more choice in accessing new and innovative plant varieties and will help them remain competitive globally.
The strengthened rights offered to plant breeders under an amended PBRA will have no negative impact on Canadian farmers who have obtained their seed legitimately. The proposed amendments explicitly include the "farmer's privilege," which allows fa1mers to continue saving and conditioning (cleaning, treating, etc.) seed of protected plant varieties for replanting on their own land. The amendments will also curtail infringements such as selling "brown bag seed," which is the practice of selling protected varieties without authorization of the rights holder. Selling brown bag seed is an infringement under the current PBRA, and it will continue to be so under the proposed amendments.
The amendments clarify that plant breeders may only collect royalties once on the initial sale of a pru1icular cycle of propagating material:If a breeder is denied a reasonable opp01tunity to collect royalties on the sale of propagating material, the breeder may exercise rights on the harvested material (e.g. grain). This ensures that breeders are fairly remunerated if their variety is used without their authorization. It is not accurate that the proposed amendments would allow royalties to be collected anywhere in the food system.
Amending the PBRA will stimulate investment and foster innovation in breeding new plant varieties. Bringing new and improved plant varieties into the marketplace is an important means of increasing agricultural productivity and sustainability and of improving food quality and marketability. It also ensures that Canadian fatmers remain competitive intemationally, as almost all other developed nations, including our major trading partners, have ratified UPOV 91.
In terms of corporate agricultural interests, Canada has laws and regulations in place that are designed to ensure that the Canadian marketplace is both fair and competitive. All businesses involved in the production or sale of products, whether large corporations or small businesses, are subject to the same laws and regulations.