"The ministry of agriculture's draft licensing guidelines released in May 2016 have adverse implications for Intellectual Property in seed and bio-tech industry." Discuss critically.

The draft guidelines sought to regulate the price of Bt cotton seeds, and the terms of licensing of the technology to anyone interested in producing the seed.
There are several issues with the new new price control regime. For example, it could discourage the technology holder from introducing the new variety because development of new seeds is expensive, and especially so with GM technology, where prolonged safety testing is involved. Further:

  • The action to control price has been taken under the Essential Commodities Act and not under Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights (PPVFR) because the procedure under the PPVFR Act is a statutory procedure with the possibility of appeal to tribunal established under the Act. By choosing to act under the Essential Commodities Act and not the PPVFR Act, the ministry of agriculture has effectively denied the technology holder the right to be heard or the right to appeal.
  • The PPVFR Act also differs from the ministry of agriculture proposal which forces the technology holder to grant a compulsory license to any one who wants it, provided they meet some minimum requirement but the PPVFR Act does not establish a right for any one to get a compulsory license at any time. If the technology holder has licensed a sufficient number of seed companies, and seed is available in adequate supply and is also demonstrably affordable, there is no need for a new entrant to get a compulsory license. This allows the technology holder to choose the parties being licensed, whereas the ministry’s proposal allows any one to demand a license.

Hence the draft guidelines discourages private player to develop a new variety of seeds.

Question for UPSC Mains:
“The ministry of agriculture’s draft licensing guidelines released in May 2016 have adverse implications for Intellectual Property in seed and bio-tech industry." Discuss critically.

Published: March 14, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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