By Karlene Skretting
Westwind Weekly News
The changes to Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) legislation contained within Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, is expected to increase investment in plant breeding in Canada, bring regulations in line with the international standards of other developed countries and increase trade opportunities for farmers by providing greater access to new crop varieties and the latest technology.
The federal government realized the need to modernize the Canadian agriculture sector and the Bill received Royal Assent on Feb. 25.
“Farmers need access to the latest plant breeding innovations in order to remain globally competitive,” said Gary Stanford, Grain Growers of Canada President. “At the same time, plant breeders need to know that their costly investments are protected. These changes to the PBR will provide this security – allowing grain growers to continue to work closely with our innovation partners.”
Perhaps most importantly, Bill C-18 will create a regulatory environment that will encourage investment and innovation in the development of new crop varieties.
“Just like the impact of patents on inventors, plant breeders rights give seed developers the ability to recapture and profit from their investment,” which Stanford believes will help pave the way for increased investment in the development of new varieties that will deliver higher yields and better agronomics for Canadian farmers.
The adoption of Bill C-18 also brings Canada’s regulations in line with international standards. Canada was one of only a handful of developed countries not covered under the 1991 International Union for the Protection of New Varieties, or UPOV’91.
This is important for ensuring Canadian farmers have access to the newest seed varieties so that we can remain competitive internationally, pointed out Stanford.
This put Canadian farmers at a competitive disadvantage, but aligning regulations will reduce that and give local farmers access to new seed varieties that competitors are already using.
“It is also important to note that the ability of farmers to save, clean, store and reuse their own seed is firmly entrenched in Bill C-18.”