The New Zealand Plant Breeding and Research Association has welcomed the passage of the Plant Variety Rights Bill.
The Bill, which replaces legislation first designed in 1987, was passed by the Parliament on Wednesday.
“After many years of lobbying our domestic plant laws have been finally brought into line with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants convention — also known as “UPOV 91” said Thomas Chin, Plant Breeding & Research Association general manager.
“Plant breeders are looking to take up the benefits under UPOV 91 as soon as possible as it gives rights holders’ strengthen protections to safe guard their intellectual property.
“For New Zealand growers’ access is opened to a greater range of new varieties which may assist their competitive position in world agricultural markets.
“One significant reform area sees the law clarify the practice of farm saved seed and for regulations to enable breeders to obtain royalties from farmers who save and replant seed of protected varieties. The use of non-proprietary varieties will not incur any royalty payment.
“Additional funding for breeding programs from royalties would help incentivise the development of new and improved pasture and arable genetics for farmers and crop end users”.
Thomas Chin observed that breeding new varieties with improved traits such as increased yield, more nutritional quality, or better resistance to disease and pests requires substantial investment of financial resources, adding that it can take up to 10 years to develop a new variety for commercial release.
Elsewhere, plant breeders continue their discussions with farmer representatives and government officials to design a royalty administration and collection system, Mr Chin said.