CEO Hong Lu was Interviewed by China Radio International: The Seed Law Amendment Reveals Public Attention to Genetically Modified Crops and Emphasis on National Germplasm Resource Protection.

  • Time: 2015-09-11 16:15:22
The Agricultural Committee of National Congress submitted the draft of Seed Law Amendment to the Standing Committee of National Congress. The Amendment incorporates the policies regarding the “perfection of institutional mechanism for breeding innovation”, “enforcement of counterfeit and infringement” and the disclosure about the promotion of genetically modified crops that have received public controversy.

The public concerns regarding to the safety of genetically modified crops are mainly reflected during the process of editing. The article where the Department of the State Council should announce the information of examination and promotion of genetically modified crops timely is firstly included in the draft submitted on the 20th. Zhenwei Liu, the director of the National People’s Congress of Agriculture Committee says, “As a response to the consumers’ concern, the selective breeding, experiment, examination and promotion of genetically modified crops should be evaluated under strict control measures according to the Amendment draft. Agricultural Department of the State Council and the Administrative Department of Forestry should also reinforce the supervision and release the information of examination and promotion of genetically modified crops on time.”

The disconnection between research and commercial sectors remains pervasive in Chinese seed industry. Generally speaking, research institutes and universities are supposed to be the main contributors to technology innovations in agriculture. However, the competitiveness of their achievements can hardly be calibrated by the market, while the competing enterprises insufficiently  invest on research and development. The Amendment endorses the subjectivity of seed enterprises in the market, enforcing a system where “the market decides the distribution of funds and assessment of the innovations in the seed industry”. Liqiu Li, the Secretary of China National Seed Association claims that the enactment of the new system would benefit the promotion and marketing of technological innovations: “In the past, the experts are the only authority to decide the popularity and competitiveness of the innovation among the farmers and the market. The market, however, can reflect the actual utility and profitability of a product. Certain innovations are raved by the experts but are not well received by the market. Thus, the system reformation is inevitable”. 

Strengthening the protection of new species, promoting indigenous innovation, and severely punishing technological counterfeit and infringement are also the major topics of the Amendment. Hong Lu, the CEO of CGMB, points out that intellectual property right is crucial in high-technology industry such as seed industry.  Inadquate protection of intellectual properties is one of the major challenges China is facing. He expects that the Amendment to improve the preservation of intellectual properties: “One seed company can develop fast with a competitive product, otherwise will be severely constrained if the product was infringed by other competitors. The last version of the seed law only lightly covered subject but there was no specific regulations and executions. The amended intellectual property rights in seed law is a significantly reinforcement on IP protection. We believe it is good news. We are expecting great improvement in new seed law ”

Furthermore, the Amendment provides regulations to collaborations with foreign institutes, requiring that “any involvement of germplasm sources in the collaborative research conducted by corporations or individuals with foreigners or foreign institutes need to be authorized by the Agricultural Department of the State Council and the Administrative Department of Forestry”. Secretary Li thinks that the regulation will benefit the protection of the national germplasm sources: “The protection of quality national germplasm sources needs to be preserved by the law. Foreign individuals and institutes are not granted with the access. Access granted to Chinese corporations under collaboration with foreigners must be authorized. Certain research staffs are unaware of the preservation of intellectual properties and carry away the resources under the excuse of collaboration. Therefore, the regulation will provide effective protection of germplasm sources.