APBREBES Statement, UPOV Council November 1st, 2019

by Francois Meienberg

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, distinguished delegates

Regarding the FAQ on how the UPOV System supports sustainable development:We were surprised to find some statements in the FAQ, which in our opinion are not completely correct. For example when it is written that the breeder’s exemption is a feature unique to the UPOV System. This is simply an erroneous assertion.  It is well known that there are many other pvp systems – outside UPOV that also feature a breeders’ exemption – for example pvp laws in South Asia or the African Model Law as implemented by Ethiopia. Or when it is written that UPOV has proven to be an effective system for all kind of breeders – including farmers. It is obvious from scientific literature, that especially for the protection of varieties bred by farmers there are other plant variety protection laws,  taking into account the special characteristics of farmer bred varieties, which are more effective then UPOV regarding for Farmer Breeders, especially regarding the aspect of uniformity.

Regarding the Interrelations with the International Treaty:We welcome the decision of the Consultative Committee to listen to a presentation regarding the project “Options to interpret the notion of private and non-commercial use as included in the UPOV 91 Convention” at its meeting next year and hopefully also to discuss subsequent steps. We recall that in 2017, the Consultative Committee agreed to consider, as a next step, the revision of the current guidance in the “Explanatory Notes on Exceptions to the Breeder's Right under the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention".

We are of the opinion that the cooperation between Oxfam and seed industry associations has led to a result that provides a good basis for further discussion of the term „private and non-commercial“.  This discussion is urgently needed as the current version of the Explanatory Note on Exceptions to breeders’ rights is out dated as it does not reflect international developments, scientific research and discussions of the last years. A revision that allows full implementation of Farmers’ Rights could relieve the burden on small farmers and their families in developing countries in particular and thus benefit society.

Thanks a lot for your attention