Alberta Pulse Growers impels breeders’ rights

As Bill C-18 pushes along, more and more support is getting behind the idea of international agricultural seed

As Bill C-18 pushes along, more and more support is getting behind the idea of international agricultural seed development and stronger protection of plant breeders’ rights.

The Alberta Pulse Growers (APG) Commission is joining with Partners in Innovation, a coalition of farmer and industry organizations, to throw its support behind the Plant Breeders Rights Act and urge the Canadian Government to amend the bill to comply with UPOV’91’s standards.

UPOV’91 is an international convention for the protection of plants developed during the 1960s.

“Industry innovation and additional investment that may result from the amendments to the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act will make our sector stronger.” said APG Chair Richard Krikke in a news release made public Aug. 18.

“They came up with a convention to protect plant breeders rights,” said APG director D’Arcy Hilgartner. Plant breeders’ rights work similar to copyright laws and ensure a seed variety is not propagated illegally.

With the protection in place breeders can confidently develop varieties without fear. A larger variety leads to more opportunities for better crop yield and disease resistance. “We need more variety to meet those never ending needs,” said Hilgartner.

He feels by complying with UPOV’91 an international agricultural harmony can be reached. “We support these amendments because we see an need.”

While public and private breeders in Canada will be protected under law a farmer’s privilege portion will also be written into the legislation, allowing them to propagate seed for their own use.

“Most farmers by new seed every year because they want the latest and greatest,” said Hilgartner.

Since the bill’s inception the National Farmers Union has been fighting the amendments, stating opening up the Canadian boarders to international varieties will give favour to large corporations with seeds that cannot withstand Canada’s factors.

“I don’t agree with their concerns . . . I guess I just don’t see it,” said Hilgartner.