Ottawa commits to UPOV 91 for plant breeders’ rights

The federal government has introduced a bill committing Canada to international plant breeding standards known as UPOV 91.

The government intends to amend the Plant Breeders Rights Act to “align with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 91) which would update Canada’s legislation from the outdated UPOV 78 framework,” Agriculture Canada said in a statement.

“Strengthening the intellectual property rights for plant breeding in Canada will encourage investment in Canadian research and development. That will give Canadian farmers more access to new and innovative seed varieties, which could enhance crop yield, improve disease and drought resistance, and meet specific global trade demands.”

Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz has hinted for months that Canada would join the international protocol, which allows seed companies to collect royalties at any stage of production, including on harvested grain.

The department said in a news release that the Plant Breeders Rights Act amendments would include farmer’s privilege, which allows farmers to use seeds from the crops they grow.

The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association supports the proposed changes, noting that wheat growing exporters such as Australia, the United States, Russia and Ukraine have adopted UPOV 91.

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“Adoption of the 1991 convention will encourage more plant breeding without sacrificing the right of farmers to save our own seed,” said WCWGA president Levi Wood.

“It will help ensure wheat remains a profitable crops option for prairie farmers.”

The Canadian Seed Trade Association also supports the amendments. It has lobbied the federal government to ratify UPOV 91 for a number of years.

If the bill passes, UPOV 91 would extend PBR protections from 15 to 20 years and expand breeders’ rights to include exclusive control over cleaning, conditioning and storing PBR protected seed.

The National Farmers Union has vocally opposed the adoption of UPOV 91 regulations, arguing it restricts farmers’ ability to re-use seed.

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“UPOV 91 is a form of plant breeder’s rights legislation which, at the very least, severely restricts farmers’ ability to save, re-use, exchange or sell seed,” said NFU president Terry Boehm, who added that the proposed change gives breeders rights over cleaning, treating and stocking seed.

“Farmers should be very aware that this regime will allow breeders to collect royalties on the entire crop, not just on the seed as allowed under our current plant breeders’ rights legislation.”

The changes to the Plant Breeders Rights Act are part of the government’s new bill, called the Agricultural Growth Act, which includes changes to the Feeds Act, the Fertilizers Act, Seeds Act, Health of Animals Act and the Plant Protection Act.

The government said some of the changes will take effect immediately if the act receives royal assent. Other changes would be phased in or require regulatory amendments.

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  • Andrea Lloyd

    To Whom it may concern:
    I am very upset with bill UVOP91. I think it is demolishing our country’s resources, and the health of our people! The consumer needs choice and the GMO is corrupting our land and it is getting harder and harder to buy and eat clean food.
    PLEASE do the research BEFORE you implement such a destructive bill.
    PLEASE!!!
    Sincerely, Andrea Lloyd

  • Grace Joubarne

    This is just another means of dismantling our democracy…the UN Agenda 21 Policy is another…this policy designed to centralize control of ALL land in the hands of the elite (One World Order) through stealth confiscation without compensation.

    We saw the eugenics program in full force as a hard-kill policy until the end of WWII, thereafter the soft-kill policy has been in effect (involuntary sterilization — now replaced by vaccinations, GMOs, geoengineering and psychiatric drugs which all have as a side effect early death and sterilization).

    What people fail to understand because they do not consider the end result of every single policy implemented by our current government is that the goal is eugenics and full compliance with the One World Order (OWO). There can be no other reason for such large-scale decimation of life forms and culture.

    Every legislation brings us more in line with the OWO demands for elite control of food (biotech), water (fluoridation, privatization of fresh water, etc), medicine (vaccinations and harmful drugs) and climate control (geoengineering).

  • Lynn Gates

    Any changes to Agricultural Acts should be researched regarding policy implications and discussed publicly until there is farmer support. Ramming through significant legislative changes that may favour foreign corporations over Canadian farmers by bundling many changes within an omnibus bill appears undemocratic, and potentially very damaging.

  • JIll Luka

    This new Agricultural Growth Act should be junked. We need to ban plant breeder rights all together and have the federal government funding public breeding programs like they use to. This legislation only serves to maintain status quo and give teeth to the legal system to persecute anyone who doesn’t want to conform to pesticide use, animal factory farming and GMOs.