Amendments to Plant Breeders’ Rights Act

Changes to the Plant Breeders’  Rights Act received royal assent today. The legislation, Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to agriculture and agri-food, includes changes addressing the duration, scope and exceptions to the rights under the Act.

 The amendments are intended to meet the latest requirements of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, known as “UPOV”. Some of the changes include:

  • a ‘breeder’ has to discover and develop a new breed, not just discover the breed (definitions)
  • exclusive rights are expanded to include reproducing propagating material of the variety, not just producing propagating (s.5)
  • add exceptions to the rights including for acts done privately and for non-commercial purposes, for experimental purposes, for breeding other varieties, and for use of materials of a variety after being sold in Canada (s.5.3 and 5.4)
  • adds a farmers privilege to use harvested materials (seeds) from the plant to propagate varieties on their holdings (s. 5.3(2))
  • extend the term of protection to 20 years from 18 years (s. 6(1))

The amendments come into force on a day to be fixed. See the parliament’s website for the full text and summary of the legislation.

Bill C-18 also amends Feeds Act, the Fertilizers Act, the Seeds Act, the Health of Animals Act, the Plant Protection Act, the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act, and the Farm Debt Mediation Act.