Will there be a new Plant Protection Act this year or not?

Buenos Aires, May 14th. The current Plant Variety Protection Act in Argentina dates from 1973. This act established an exemption of the breeder’s right and gave the farmers the possibility to save grain from his production and use it as seed in a new season (a.k.a farmers privilege in UPOV ’78 convention).

This is the most controversial issue between users (farmers), breeders and biotechnology developers since less than 20% of the soybean acreage in Argentina is planted with legal seed. From 2003 to the present, a new Plant Breeders Act had been discussed between the Government and the stakeholders but never able to reach an agreement.

With the assumption of President Mauricio Macri and his Cambiemos coalition in December 2015, breeders and biotech’s had the expectative a new Act would be enacted.  But they were wrong. The Ministry of AgIndustry did not redact a new Act project nor another Government branch did it.

Now, at the second half of his mandate Cambiemos’ representatives are preparing to the Parliament discussion. On the one hand, a draft of a new Act was dispatched from AgIndustry to the Representatives House. “It’s only a letter of good intentions”, an adviser of CRA farmer’s union minimized it in dialogue with www.eFarmNewsAr.com.

On the other hand, two of the largest farmer’s union, Argentine Rural Confederation (CRA) and Argentine Agrarian Federation (FAA) have prepared a draft of a new seed Act. “We could accept a limit or restriction to the farmer’s privilege, but in the give and take we demand the exhaustion of the biotechnology patents”, told Roberto Campì, from CRA to www.eFarmNewsAr.com.

“The idea is the farmer could use his own seed for the original acreage without pay royalties; but if he wants to expand the area, he will to buy new bags of seed”, says Mr. Jorge Solmi, FAA advisor in seeds issues.

It’s said that Marcos Peña, Macri’s influent Chief of Ministers, discarded the idea. “We have sufficient problems to open a new front with the seeds issue”, he would have said to the representatives.

Farmer’s unions hope if they present their own Plant Breeders Act project, they will weaken the official one from Cambiemos’ representatives. “They can not say there is consensus around their project. Also, as it is not a proposal from Government we consider that the initiative will enter the dead way”, added Mr. Solmi.

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