Plant Breeder's Rights and Contract Growing in the Pasture Seeds Industry

Rural Industries Research and Development Council
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2007, pp. 1 - 63
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Research background This research marks a breakthrough in legal research into plant breeder's rights (PBR). Previous legal research focused on the policy issue of whether life should be commodified and whether the introduction of PBR led to the privatisation of plant breeding. The current research shifted the focus from plants to markets, from breeders to growers. Research contribution The research demonstrated that there has been no increase in private breeding in the pasture seeds industry as a result of PBR. A survey of pasture seed growers established that the biggest impact of introducing PBR in the pastures seeds industry was the development of vertical contact growing and the separation of marketing and growing within the industry. This was significantly different to the US experience where the separation of breeding, growing and marketing had occurred earlier and simultaneously. A legal analysis of growing contracts demonstrated that many contracts were unfairly biased in favour of seed companies, were poorly drafted and often legally ineffective. Research significance The research demonstrates that many policy assumptions regarding the impact of PBR are incorrect; that the US experience of PBR is not always relevant in Australia; that there is a need to continue to fund Australian public breeding programs; and that there are significant problems with vertical contract growing. The importance of the research is attested to by the fact that the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation has subsequently funded further research to develop a standard contract for the pasture seeds industry.
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