R&D boost with wider protection for new plants

R&D boost with wider protection for new plants
Dr Hong Yan, Director of plant biotechnology at Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory is spearheading a project to set up a Jatropha plantation to reasearch on the plant's potential as a biofuel.

The seeds for greater research into new plant varieties with economic potential were sown on Thursday, after Parliament's passing of a Bill.

The Plant Varieties Protection (Amendment) Bill has expanded Singapore's protection of plants to include all genera and species, making it the first country in ASEAN to do so.

Previously, only new varieties of 16 genera and species of plants, which include orchids, vegetables and aquatic plants, were eligible for protection.

The expansion will encourage investments in the research and development of new plant varieties with economic potential, said Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah.

With the changes, anyone who breeds, discovers and develops a new variety can apply for it to be protected. The grant of protection gives the breeder exclusive rights to the new plant variety and can prevent others from producing, selling, importing or exporting this protected variety.

Ms Indranee gave the example of the Jatropha curcas plant, which can produce fruits with a high oil yield and has the potential to be used as a biofuel.

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) said on Thursday local breeders have expressed a strong interest to protect plant species that are potential sources of sustainable biofuel.

To cope with the expanded scope of plant species protected, amendments to the Bill will also allow Ipos to engage the services of examining authorities beyond Singapore's shores to perform relevant technical examinations, in addition to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.

These examinations are required when a breeder applies for protection of a new plant variety.

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