Japan to tighten regulations on plant breeders' rights

November 13 , 2019

Japan is planning to tighten regulations on domestic varieties of grapes, strawberries and other fruits that go abroad, reported Jiji Press.  

The move by Japan’s agriculture ministry is an effort to protect the brand value of Japanese products from unfair international competition.

In the past, growers leaked seedlings of Shine Muscat grapes to South Korea and China, the article reported.

Japan patented this variety in 2006, and as a result of this leak, export expansion was impeded.

In Southeast Asia, Japanese Shine Muscats sell as high as 10,000 yen per bunch, about US$92. 

Therefore, the expensive variety had to compete in the Japanese market with South Korean and Chinese grown counterparts. 

Japan blames plant variety protection laws for the slip. Currently, Japan protects varieties domestically if they register with the Japanese government as intellectual property, says the article.

However, laws do not protect varieties internationally. People can bring varieties across around 80 foreign borders. 

The agricultural ministry is looking to change this. It wants to allow developers of new fruit and vegetable varieties to specify cultivation areas. Specifically, it will make sure that new brands are identified and registered with the Japanese government.  

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