Plant breeder's initiatives

It's an important time for plant breeder’s rights (PBR) in Australia. Our PBR initiatives include a dedicated reform program to explore Australia’s plant breeding ecosystem and the role of PBR.  

Review and reform of the plant breeder's rights system

We're doing research to understand the current landscape, challenges, and opportunities. From this, we'll make recommendations for future improvements. We're focused on the current and future needs of Australian agriculture, including all industries where PBR is relevant and plays a role.

Why we're doing the review

New plant varieties can greatly benefit the economy and society as a whole. The Australian PBR system exists to encourage new plant varieties being developed.

Technologies and industries connected with plant breeding continue to advance and evolve. However PBR legislation has largely remained the same since it was introduced in 1994.

Through our research, we want to ensure PBR are:

  • Fit for purpose
  • Supporting plant breeding industries
  • Connected with the government's priorities relating to agriculture and growth.

Where we've focused

Our research is particularly focused on Australian industries and the Australian economy. However our place in the global landscape is also critically important for PBR.

Australia is a member of the 1991 International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV treaty). Australia is committed to maintaining a system of plant variety protection with the features agreed in the UPOV treaty.

Issues relating to importing and exporting plant varieties and products are also front of mind in our review. These are very important when considering any future directions or impacts.

Who we've spoken to

Our goal is to better understand the users of our PBR system and the economic impact of PBR. We're working with plant breeder's right owners, stakeholders and researchers to help us understand what's already been done, what's working, and what could be improved. 

We interviewed people and businesses directly involved in plant breeding as well as key stakeholders across the plant breeding ecosystem. Between October 2021 and early January 2022, we held 70 interviews.

Most people either breed new plant varieties or are part of the supply chain which introduces new varieties in Australia.

In these categories, approximately 70% had applied for, or owned, at least one PBR.

Industries included:

  • Broadacre crops
  • Nurseries
  • Cut flowers
  • Cultivated turf
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Vegetables
  • Other emerging industries.

At the same time, the team had another 30 targeted conversations with people and organisations who had different connections and perspectives of PBR and plant breeding.

We've partnered with Swinburne University’s Centre for Transformative Innovation to undertake economic research.

To enable this research, we've:

What we've learnt

Our research has revealed the importance of PBR in the plant breeding ecosystem, and some key themes have emerged from our review. We're exploring the opportunities to implement changes based on these to help improve the system.

The examination process

Recognising the role and experiences of Qualified Persons in the PBR system, and opportunities to better align the examination process with what the industry needs.

Legislation

Identifying aspects of the PBR legislation which could be modernised or clarified.

Education and awareness 

Determining how we can take a targeted approach to public education and awareness, helping to connect people and businesses with the information they need so that they're empowered to make informed decisions about PBR.

Economic data

Recognising the need for further economic data to increase awareness on the impact PBR has on the incentive for individuals to invest in and commercialise new plant varieties.

Economic impact report

We wanted to get a better understanding of the:

  • Users of Australia’s PBR system
  • Economic impact of PBR.

Read the PBR economic impact report

Our recent interviews and economic research have provided us with valuable insights into today’s plant breeding ecosystem and how PBR is used.

Director General’s Australasian Plant Breeding Conference speech

Watch Michael Schwager, Director General, IP Australia, as he provides a review of PBR, IP and the agricultural economy.

Watch the Director General's speech

Ecosystem insights snapshot

Check out our infographic to find out:

  • Who we spoke to
  • What we heard
  • What's next.

What we heard from you

We asked you to tell us if the PBR system is:

  • Fit for purpose
  • Achieving its role supporting plant breeding industries
  • Looking towards the future productivity of Australian agricultural industries.

Here's what you told us.

Economic impact snapshot

Check out our infographic to find out:

  • The economic impact of PBR in Australia
  • How PBR is the key to inducing investment in variety improvement.

What we've done so far

Case studies

We've heard that real life case studies can be helpful for people to understand the benefits of a PBR, and how it can apply to their business. To help you gain a greater insight into what they are and how they work, we've created some engaging case studies as educational resources. 

View our PBR case studies

What we're doing next

Later in 2022, we'll be conducting a survey to further explore the role PBR plays in breeding and commercialising new plant varieties in Australia.

Creating a better experience

Alongside our reform work, we're continuing to make improvements to your overall experience with us. This includes ongoing work to uplift and modernise aspects of our:

  • Services
  • IT systems
  • Processes
  • Information.

To keep track of some of the improvements we're already making, check out our policy register. 

View the policy register

Connect with us

If you'd like to learn more about our PBR work or want to participate in our research, get in touch with our PBR reform team.

Send us an email