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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 13 July 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 13 July 2023


Contents

  1. Farmer-PepsiCo Potato Variety Legal Battle
  2. Colonial Artefacts and Moral Reconciliation

Farmer-PepsiCo Potato Variety Legal Battle


Context:

 PepsiCo India’s patent challenge for its distinctive Lays potato type was denied by the Delhi High Court. The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act, 2001 (PPV&FR), which secures plant varieties and encourages agricultural development in India, is the subject of this ruling.

Relevance:

GS Paper 2: Legal Rights, GS Paper 3: Agriculture,

Mains Question

Describe the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act, 2001 (PPV&FR Act)’s main provisions and goals. How does this law protect farmers’ rights while fostering India’s agricultural development? (150 Words)


The Background

  • ‘FL 2027’ is a potato plant cultivar that PepsiCo created specifically for Lay’s chips. PepsiCo obtained a registration certificate for FL 2027 in 2016, giving them exclusive rights to market, sell, import, export, or distribute the variety for six years. The variety has desirable qualities like low external defects, high dry matter/solids content, and stable sugars, making it ideal for chip production.
  • However, following a request made by farmers’ rights campaigner Kavitha Kurungati, the certificate was cancelled by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights’ Authority (PPVFRA).

Act of 2001 Protecting Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights:

  • The PPV&FR Act strives to protect the rights of breeders, researchers, and farmers while advancing agriculture by establishing a framework to preserve and foster the creation of plant varieties.
  • Additionally, the act promotes the expansion of the Indian seed market, ensuring that farmers have access to top-notch seeds and planting supplies.
  • In accordance with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), 1978, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001, was passed in India using a sui generis approach. In order to implement Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in a way that supports the socioeconomic interests of all stakeholders, including the private and public sectors, research institutions, and resource-constrained farmers, this legislation acknowledges the contributions of both commercial plant breeders and farmers in plant breeding activities.

The PPV&FR Act’s 2001 goals are:

  • Create a framework that works to safeguard plant varieties, farmer and plant breeder rights, and promote the creation of new plant varieties.
  • Recognise and uphold the rights of farmers who have made contributions to the preservation, enhancement, and availability of plant genetic resources for the creation of new plant types.
  • Promote investment in research and development for the creation of novel plant varieties in both the public and private sectors while protecting the rights of plant breeders.
  • Promote the development of the seed industry so that farmers may obtain high-quality seeds and planting supplies.

Rights under the act

  • Breeders have the sole right to produce, sell, market, distribute, import, and export the protected variety under the Act. They have the right to designate agents or licensees and pursue civil remedies when their rights are violated.
    • Rights of Researchers: Registered varieties may be used by researchers for research or experimentation. A variety may also be used as a starting point for the creation of another variety, although this requires prior consent from the registered breeder.
  • Farmers have the same rights as breeders to register and protect new varieties they have produced.
  • Farmers’ varieties may be listed as existing varieties as well.
    • Farmers have the same rights today as they did when the Act went into effect to conserve, use, sow, resow, exchange, share, and sell their farm products, including protected variety seeds. They are unable to sell branded seeds of protected types, nevertheless.
    • Farmers are entitled to praise and benefits for protecting the genetic resources of domesticated and untamed relatives of commercially important plants.
  • According to Section 39(2) of the Act, farmers may be compensated for a variety’s failure to perform.
    • The Act exempts farmers from paying any fees for appearances before the Authority, Registrar, Tribunal, or High Court.
  • The PPV&FR Act, 2001 intends to safeguard plant varieties, acknowledge farmers’ and breeders’ rights, and encourage agricultural development while maintaining farmers’ access to high-quality seeds.

Grounds for Revocation

The registration of a breeder’s variety may be revoked under Section 34 of the PPV&FR Act for a number of reasons, including incorrect information provided during the application, registration granted to an ineligible person, failure to provide required documents, non-compliance with prescribed acts and regulations, and if the grant of registration is contrary to the public interest.

Rejection of Appeal by Court:

  • The court principally cited Section 34(a) of the PPV&FR Act in its decision to reject PepsiCo’s appeal. Despite the fact that the variety had already been commercially released in India, PepsiCo’s application for FL 2027 listed it as a “new variant” as opposed to a “extant variant.”
  • The variety must meet the additional criteria of novelty in addition to distinctiveness, homogeneity, and stability in order to be recorded as a “new variant.”Due to FL 2027’s inability to satisfy the novelty requirement, it could only be registered as a “extant variety.”

Conclusion

India’s agriculture industry employs a sizable number of people and contributes significantly to the country’s economy. To safeguard the welfare of farmers and uphold their rights, multinational food processing firms and investors should place a high priority on knowing Indian law, particularly the PPV&FR Act of 2001. The act offers farmers the necessary safeguards and protections, which helps the nation’s agricultural flourish sustainably.


Colonial Artefacts and Moral Reconciliation


Context

The recent decision by the Netherlands to repatriate looted items to Sri Lanka and Indonesia has rekindled the discussion on whether colonial nations should retain cultural treasures looted during the time of imperial dominance.

Relevance – GS Paper 1 – Impact of colonialism on India, GS Paper 2 – International Relations

Mains Question

Explain the idea of moral atonement in the context of combating colonialism, in addition to monetary reparations and the return of artefacts. Talk about the important steps that can help with moral atonement and the importance of those steps in redressing historical wrongs. (250 words)


The Importance of Restitution:

Several nations, notably India, have demanded the return of cultural artefacts from former colonial powers, including the Elgin Marbles and the Kohinoor diamond. Despite their resistance, the British have returned some Benin Bronzes to Nigeria. As a moral duty owed by the West to its former colonies, the return of these objects stands for justice and an admission of the misuse of cultural property.

Restitution’s Limited Impact:

It’s important to understand that colonialism’s wounds cannot totally be repaired by returning stolen goods. The horrors experienced and the lives lost cannot be measured in monetary terms. A step towards moral justice, however, is represented by the return of cultural relics, given that the prosperity and power of former colonial powers were based on the exploitation of their colonies.

Challenges and Solutions:

Returning looted colonial-era antiquities is a more practical option than paying financial compensation. Although the financial benefits gained during colonial rule cannot be recovered, specific stolen items kept in museums can be restored in recognition of their symbolic worth. The idea of returning looted colonial treasures is legitimate, much like the repatriation of Nazi-era art.

The Kohinoor Diamond’s Symbolism:

The Kohinoor diamond, which is kept in the Tower of London, represents the injustices committed by the British Empire. Even as a symbolic act of atonement, its return would be proof of the robbery, theft, and misuse that characterised colonisation. Therefore, it is essential that the diamond be returned to its proper location.

The Need for Moral Atonement:

The issue of retroactive justice for colonialism cannot be resolved by financial compensation alone. Creating a museum in the imperial capital that illustrates the atrocities of colonialism, teaching authentic British colonial history in schools, and formally apologising to colonialism’s victims are the three key steps necessary for true atonement. These actions would show a sincere desire to right historical wrongs.

A Call for British Atonement:

 Although the current British administration is not responsible for colonialism, the country must make amends for the past. A heartfelt apology from Britain is essential, drawing on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s for the Komagata Maru disaster. Additionally, the creation of a Museum of Colonialism would show a dedication to studying the past.

Conclusion

Restitution of colonial artefacts is an important step in resolving the historical injustices committed by colonial powers, combined with moral atonement. Genuine repentance, the admission of past wrongs, and the return of stolen cultural assets are essential for promoting healing and understanding. True moral atonement may only be attained by such deeds.


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