Thai Plant Variety Regulation on Hold as Plant Breeders Object to Access and Benefit Sharing Provisions

SciDevNet reports that Thai officials have suspended a regulation requiring plant breeders to obtain government permission before using wild plant varieties and certain domesticated varieties in the production of commercial plant varieties, and to share with the government the benefits of using those resources. Plant breeders force rethink of Thai seed law. According to the article, the regulation–inspired by the Convention on Biological Diversity–entered into legal effect in January 2011, and the national department of agriculture was scheduled to begin enforcing it two months ago. However, plant breeders objected to its breadth and demanded that the term “general domestic variety” in the regulation be redefined to include only varieties of Thai origin. The president of the Thai Seed Trade Association reportedly told SciDevNet that the regulation “is like a time bomb for the country’s private plant breeders, destroying their rights over new varieties,” because “plants kept by private breeders but not registered for fear of releasing trade secrets will now belong to the government.” The head of the agriculture department is said to be considering the breeders’ demands.

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