Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Parliament of Tanzania made a declaration allowing the country to comply with the UPOV Convention, 1991

Government of Tanzania started the process to amend its Plant Breeders' Rights Act, 2002. The amendment is meant to protect new plant varieties and give local researchers a leeway to patent their discoveries. It will also allow breeders to register within the international system new varieties for protection. This move would be a milestone in protecting the rights of the local breeders, whose works have been, for many years, published unnoticed and that it was a high time for them to reap from their innovations.

Once the Tanzania becomes a member and having opened the national registration office for local breeders, unlike patenting system, the UPOV convention allows them to use breeding materials from other registered breeders to obtain a more improved variety.

Tanzania is also planning to go to court to stop the US and Brazilian governments, jointly with two multinational firms, from patenting a sorghum gene isolated from Tanzanian farms. The researchers from the US department of agriculture, Brazil's Agricultural Research Corporation and Texas A&M University to have patented the gene with the US Patent Office in September 2009. If allowed, the multinational corporations would then seek to exploit their patent to boost profits by selling sorghum seeds at a high price at the expense of the of the locals where the gene was extracted.

It is pertinent to mention that instead of joining the UPOV organization, Tanzania could have developed its own sui generis system as per Article 27(3) (b) of TRIPS agreement keeping in mind the ground realities of Tanzania was the best way for the country to give incentive to breeders as it would trigger more public and private investment in research and breeding while enjoying intellectual property rights.
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Dr.Tabrez Ahmad,
Associate Professor of Law,
KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, India,
Website: www.site.technolexindia.com
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Research Papers: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=1189281

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