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RCEP should not place intellectual property obligation on India regarding seed, planting materials


Press Trust of India New Delhi
Some farmer organisations and experts have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the proposed mega-trade deal RCEP should not place any obligation on India with respect to intellectual property (IP) on seed and planting materials.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free-trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated by 16 countries, including 10-member Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) bloc and India, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.
It aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights (IPR).
In a letter to the prime minister, 41 farmer organisations and 12 experts said certain RCEP members are demanding a tighter IPR regime in the form of insistence on provisions on rights in plant varieties.
"It is demanded by some RCEP-participating countries that such plant variety protection (PVP) shall provide for the IP protection of all plant genera and species by an effective PVP system, which is consistent with the 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants," the letter said.
A mega FTA that undermines farmers' seed freedoms in a diverse country is unacceptable, it added.
"Countries have complete freedom to adopt a system suitable to their agricultural condition and needs. Nothing in the RCEP negotiations should affect and limit this freedom," it added.
India wants to have a balanced RECP trade agreement as it would cover 40 per cent of the global GDP and over 42 per cent of the world's population.
India already has an FTA with ASEAN, Japan and South Korea. It is also negotiating a similar agreement with Australia and New Zealand but has no such plans for China.
The organisations that have signed the letter include All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement, All India Farmers Association, All India Kisan Sabha, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, and Annadana Soil and Seed Savers.

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First Published: Feb 25 2019 | 8:55 PM IST

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