- December 10, 2021
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject – IR
Context – PepsiCo Controversy: Globally, India Has Always Refused to Give in on IPR on Plant Varieties
- India is a member of multilateral trade rules, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), since 1995.
- One of the WTO agreements, namely the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), introduced the idea of intellectual property rights (IPR) on life forms as a global minimum standard.
- It was due to the push of the seed, pharma and biotech corporations that the TRIPS Agreement was put in the WTO.
- The move had no social backing in India, particularly from farmers.
- While the TRIPS Agreement still came to be, we chose to opt out of patents on plants, using Article 27(3)(b) of TRIPS that allows WTO members to exclude plants from patentability.
- Section 3(j) of the Indian Patents Act makes it clear that plants, including seeds, varieties and species, and essentially biological processes for production or propagation of plants are not inventions.
- India therefore does not subscribe to patents on plants and provides for IPR through plant variety protection (PVP) instead. That is the point of genesis of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001, which is an IPR law.
The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA)
- The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) is the international law that recognises farmers’ contributions in PGR for food and farming.
- The treaty entered into force in 2004.
- It has specific provisions on Farmers’ Rights in Article 9.
- India is a member of the seed treaty and has provided for farmers’ rights in its domestic legislation.
- The Registrar General of the PPV&FR Authority is a co-chair of the Technical Expert Group set up under the treaty to give guidance to member countries on how to effectively implement farmers’ rights.
- The Registrar General is also the registrar in charge of farmer rights in the country.
- Pushed by its Human Rights Council, in December 2018, the UN General Assembly adopted a declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.
- This was the result of a 17-year-long process, initiated by the international peasant movement La via Campesina, supported by numerous social movements and allied organisations.
- Article 19 of the declaration is dedicated to farmers’ seed rights. This includes the right to save, use, exchange and sell their farm-saved seed or propagating material.
- Under the declaration, states have to ensure that seed policies, plant variety protection and other intellectual property laws, respect and take into account the rights, needs and realities of smallholder farmers.
- The Indian government voted for this declaration.
Treaty on Transnational Corporation (TNC’s)
- This alliance for a binding treaty on Transnational Corporation (TNC’s) gathers global networks and alliances, which collectively represent more than 500 groups world-wide who are determined to stop corporate human rights violations.
- In 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution “to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, whose mandate shall be to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.”
- The Indian delegation, which includes the Ministry for Corporate Affairs, has studied the zero draft in detail and is of the opinion that thorough and detailed deliberations on various elements of the draft are required.
- Nonetheless, it has expressed commitment to the negotiations.
To know about Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Authority, please refer December 2021 DPN.