The breeder’s exemption under UPOV, the CBD (and Nagoya Protocol) and the Plant Treaty

18 November 2015, CGIAR Master Class, Charles Lawson

The International Convention for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV) provides for a breeder’s exemption allowing the protected plant variety to be used to breed new varieties. The FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Plant Treaty) and UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (and its Nagoya Protocol) provide a scheme for accessing plant materials (genetic resources) that might be used for breeding new varieties and details an obligation to share any benefits. This presentation showed that while the Plant Treaty and CBD (and Nagoya Protocol) and UPOV operate separately, in their implementation in domestic laws the CBD (and Nagoya Protocol) access and benefit-sharing contracts can limit the UPOV breeder’s exemption, restricting further breeding of new varieties. Meanwhile the Plant Treaty currently appears compatible with the UPOV breeder’s exemption. The presentation also briefly considered the consequences of this conclusion for Farmers’ Rights under the Plant Treaty and Traditional Knowledge under the CBD (and Nagoya Protocol).


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