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Two Hassle Over Plant Breeders Bill   
 
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10-Feb-2015  
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Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong
 
 
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The government and a non-governmental organisation are on a collision course over the Plant Breeders Bill currently before Parliament.

While two Ministers of State were in The Netherlands recently defending the bill, the Agriculture Sovereignty Ghana, a non-governmental organisation, contends that the passage of the bill into law will have an extreme negative impact on the country’s agriculture.

The Plant Breeders Bill seeks to protect the intellectual property of plant breeders who create new varieties and establish a legal framework to protect the rights of breeders of new varieties of plants or plant groupings.

It is also to promote the breeding of new varieties of plants aimed at improving the quantity, quality and cost of food, fuel, fibre and raw materials for industry but it is currently facing stiff opposition from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and some individuals.

The fear of the critics is that the PBB, when passed into law, would stifle the peasant farmer.

Attorney-General

But the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, and a Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ahmed Alhassan, have dispelled the fears of critics.

According to them, the PBB rather sought to protect the interest of breeders of new plant varieties and also cater for the wellbeing of small-scale farmers.

They both dispelled rumours that the bill only sought to support genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Mrs Appiah-Opong last week led a parliamentary delegation to The Netherlands to study how the implementation of the Public Breeders Rights in that country had boosted agriculture.

Good law

“All the bill seeks is an avenue for people who have created a plant variety to register the right in what they have created. We are simply registering that right under the law,” Mrs Appiah-Opong explained.

She said the crop research division of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) would be protected under the bill in the event it came up with a unique and genuine plant variety.

“Any person or organisation that has created a variety outside the jurisdiction can also register that variety under the Plant Breeders Bill when it is eventually passed into law,” Mrs Appiah-Opong assured.

Tackling concerns raised by critics of the bill, the Attorney-General said there was no point for them to be worried because the bill would protect the rights of breeders and farmers.

Dr Alhassan

For his part, Dr Alhassan said with his 30-year experience in the agricultural sector, he was of the view the sector needed massive capital injection and knowledge.

He said one could only attract huge investment in the agricultural sector on condition the investor’s intellectual property could be protected.

Just like the music, arts and design industries, Dr Alhassan noted that plant breeders also deserved to be protected under the law.

He said the PBB as was currently drafted, had provisions that allowed non-commercial farmers to use and re-use varieties without having to pay the breeder any royalties.

“It is also provided that once a variety is germinated, that variety becomes part of the pool of genetic materials that can be used by other breeders to generate new varieties,” Dr Alhassan said.
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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