In Mexico, plant varieties are registered under Plant Breeder’s Rights (PBR) and the National Catalogue of Vegetal Varieties (NCVV). PBRs grant exclusive rights over the plant variety and propagating material for the production, distribution, or sale thereof. On the other hand, the NCVV comprises a list of plant varieties which meet a set of required technical conditions for any given species. The NCVV does not grant any rights, but rather helps to list the varieties which deliver certain quality standards.
Both PBRs and the NCVV benefit consumers on producing new varieties resistant to diseases, adverse conditions, or increasing the productivity of the variety, and ensuring these, plants, and their products, meet certain quality parameters.
Currently, according to Mexico’s Breeders Association, AMSAC, Mexico suffers from a seed piracy problem that, annually, costs up to 10% of a billion-dollar market. Seed piracy negatively affects breeders, diminishing their revenue and investment over new varieties, farmers, diminishing their yields and affecting their lands, and consumers, who unknowingly buy subpar products.
Seed piracy involves selling of non-certified seeds, use of counterfeit labels, non-authorized use of registered trademarks, filling bags with different seeds, among others. Further, pirate seeds do not meet the necessary sanitary, innocuity, and quality standards. Falsification in Mexico mainly affects corn, chili, onion, tomatoes, sorghum, and ornamental plants.
Tackling the problem is not easy and requires effort from every party involved. Breeders and Intellectual Property rights holders must enforce their rights to stop current and potential infringers, farmers should be aware of the problem and ask for the necessary certifications issued by the authority, and, even though it may be difficult, consumers must be aware of the problem and avoid buying pirated products where available. Lastly, raising awareness of the issue may help any potential party to avoid participating and aggravating the issue.