Japan aims more ASEAN states to accede seed patent UPOV

TOKYO, Nov. 24 ― Japan has set a target by 2027 to get more than half of Southeast Asian members to accede to the 1991 revision of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) Convention.

Japan has been pushing the neighboring countries to build an intellectual property system that protects the rights of the breeder of each new plant variety and seed protection, as it aims to boost agricultural exports in the Asian markets.

UPOV has 75 members, including Japan and China, which have introduced the system based on the convention.

Among the 10 ASEAN members, only two — namely Vietnam and Singapore, have ratified the international convention. Others fear it may increase global corporations’ monopolistic control over small farmers in the seed trade.

Under the 1991 version, the ASEAN farmers would be obliged to pay for the seeds they use for up to 25 years if these are protected, instead of being able to save their own seeds to plant in the next season, they said.

This would increase costs for farming, they added.

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