Plant Genetic Resources And IPR
Since the dawn of agriculture, farmers in India have sowed seeds, harvested crops, set aside a portion of the produce for seeds, and traded seeds with their neighbors. Every ritual in India involves seeds, it is the very symbol of life’s renewal. PGRs have always been regarded in India as "common heritage," freely used by all, and ineligible for private ownership.
However, few advances generated as much controversy as the innovations of the biotechnology industry . Genetic research breakthroughs at the end of the 20th century forced the patent system to decide whether or not to grant patents for genetically modified living things. Laws are being created in our nation and other developing nations to comply with the WTO's need for the protection of intellectual property rights. The International Undertaking of Plant Genetic Resources (IU) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) both recognized property claims over PGRs in addition to Article 27.3(b) of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Therefore, patents are now being awarded on genetically modified crops in order to make the Indian Patent laws TRIPS compatible, and if granted, they will have a significant negative impact on the Indian economy . The practice of issuing patents on seeds, which give the owners monopoly rights to prevent anybody else from producing, selling, or disseminating that which is patented, is therefore likely to favor multinational corporations rather than farmers.
In order to ensure the food security of the nation, farmers' systems for crop development and seed distribution are crucial. Additionally, it ensures that the traditional farmers have access to the gene bank so they may choose, enhance, and preserve traditional varieties that are well suited to the area where they reside . Contrary to the claim that IPRs will promote agricultural biotechnology and assure food security, the seeming imposition of IPRs in agriculture has a history of marginalizing underdeveloped nations and having a detrimental effect on their agricultural biodiversity and food security . The developing nations will become dependent on biologists' charity as they make strategic judgments about how to use plant IPRs for financial advantage in agriculture. It has also been said that the adoption of IPRs over PGRs represents the ownership of life. It has been suggested that plant IPRs will deprive farmers of future potential for significant economic gain and of just remuneration for the property they presently control. While breeders are able to get ownership rights to the varieties they develop, conventional farmers are denied the opportunity to be recognized for their value added in the development of new plant types. For instance, just 38% of India's seed needs are handled by official organizations like National Seed Corporations, meaning that the majority of farmers there rely on the traditional practice of seed exchange and saving, which makes up a significant portion of the seed distribution system. The farmer will be required to pay a royalty for seeds for each planting in the absence of the customary entitlement to seed saving since he cannot save extra seeds or utilize them in subsequent seasons. It also causes issues like the use of traditional knowledge and biological resources without authorization for commercial gain.
Since IPRs are a new player in the field of agricultural biotechnology, caution must be made to avoid monopolizing PGRs by permitting standards to deviate in order to maximize profits for agro-business corporations. Farmers' rights must be understood in terms of their ownership of the PGRs that they have long since created and preserved via their customary methods. The overall examination of the current legal system shows that while it makes an effort to regulate the IPRs system in some areas, it falls short of granting the "right people" access to PGRs and the information contained within. A good effort has been made to safeguard the rights of the local population, but impact studies are necessary to make sure that all development activities are compatible with the preservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of PGRs. Although both farmers and formal breeders are granted ownership rights under the current legislative framework, agro-biotech businesses have more influence, and traditional farmers appear to be lagging behind in claiming their rights over PGRs. The focus should have been on using plant.