Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

June 22, 2015 15:30 ET

Harper Government Provides Stronger Intellectual Property Protection for Plant Breeders and Greater Crop Variety Access for Farmers

Ratification of international treaty will improve Canada's plant variety protection system

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 22, 2015) - Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced today that Canada has ratified the UPOV'91 treaty to improve the plant variety protection system. This important step finalizes one of the key measures of the recently-passed Agricultural Growth Act. The Agricultural Growth Act and its amendments have modernized legislation around plant breeders' rights, allowing Canada to finally ratify UPOV'91.

Canada's representative to the World Trade Organization deposited the instrument of ratification with the Secretary General of UPOV in Geneva, Switzerland on June 19. The 1991 Act of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, also known as UPOV'91, sets the international standard for plant breeders' rights.

In order to bring a new plant variety to the market, an immense amount of time and investment is required. Plant breeders often spend 10 to 12 years working to finalize a new plant variety. With the ratification of UPOV'91, plant breeders have more protection and farmers have better access to a wider variety of seeds. UPOV'91 encourages increased investment in plant breeding and brings Canada in line with trading partners, allowing Canadian farmers to be more competitive in the global market place.

Quick Facts

- There has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of plant breeders' rights (PBR) applications since the Agricultural Growth Act came into force in Spring 2015.

- In 2012, the private sector invested close to $110 million in plant breeding, research, and varietal development.

- PBR are a form of intellectual property protection for plant breeders who develop new plant varieties and want to sell and collect royalties from the sale of reproductive material from those varieties.

- The total economic impact of the seed industry in Canada is estimated at $5.61 billion.


"Our Government has delivered on our longstanding commitment to strengthen plant breeders' rights by adopting and implementing UPOV'91. Stronger intellectual property rights have proven to provide greater incentives to increase investment in research and development for Canada's crop sector, giving our farmers greater access to the newest crop varieties." - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz

Associated Links

- Questions and answers: Agricultural Growth Act: Updating the Plant Breeders' Rights Act in Canada

- Questions and answers: UPOV'91

Contact Information

  • Media Relations
    Canadian Food Inspection Agency