Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill [B11B-2015]

Call for comments opened 07 March 2017 Share this page:

Submissions are now closed (since 15 March 2017)

NCOP Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy

The Select Committee on Land and Mineral Resources invites you to submit written comments on the Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill [B11B-2015].

The Bill seeks to provide for a system whereunder plant breeders’ rights relating to varieties of certain kinds of plants may be granted; for the requirements that have to be complied with for the grant of such rights; for the scope and protection of such rights; and for the grant of licenses in respect of the exercise of such rights.

Comments can be emailed to Mr Asgar A Bawa at by no later than Wednesday, 15 March 2017.

Enquiries can be directed to Mr Asgar A Bawa on tel (021) 403 3762 or cell 083 709 8530

Issued by Mr OJ Sefako, MP, Chairperson of the Select Committee on Land and Mineral Resources.

The Bill seeks to replace the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act, 1976 (Act No. 15 of 1976) (‘‘the Act’’). Various deficiencies in the current Act necessitated the replacement; some of the key issues are listed below: ▪ Protection is only offered for a limited number of plant genera and species. This limitation is not in line with other international obligations to which the Republic is a party (Article 27.3b of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) or other developments in the plant breeding industry. ▪ Current penalties are inadequate to deter deliberate infringement of the rights of plant breeders. Deliberate abuse of protected varieties without paying the required royalties is a major disincentive for breeders to continue developing new varieties or release varieties into the territory of a country. This may ultimately impact on the competitiveness of the agricultural sector. ▪ Farmers are allowed to save protected seeds on their own holdings for re-sowing or replanting through a farmer’s privilege provision in the Act. Globally, this farmer’s privilege provision is included in plant variety protection frameworks in order to provide for seed management practices of subsistence or smallholder farmers. The lack of a clear definition of the targeted beneficiaries of the farmer’s privilege, has allowed commercial farmers to abuse this provision. ▪ Time limits for filing application for a plant breeder’s right are important as it impacts on novelty requirements and priority claims. The Act in its current form is unclear on the specific documentation required for applicants to secure a filing date. The transboundary movement of plant material is subject to phytosanitary requirements. The Act prescribes a 12 month period for the submission of plant material to be assessed. This period is inadequate for other industries, e.g. citrus and stone fruit industries, as it may take as long as 8 years from the time material is imported to the time the material is ready for evaluation. Although the Act makes provision for extensions, no conditions or limitations are set for such extension. This has led to a practice where an application is received but the submission of plant material is delayed for an indefinite period. ▪ Plant variety protection is a complex environment where technical plant science combines with legal rights and obligations. No formal support is provided for the Registrar in the Act, except for the technical evaluations. ▪ In terms of the Act, the term of the protection expires after 20 or 25 years, depending on crop type. In other countries, the term of protection is extended up to 30 years for selected crops, e.g. potatoes.