Supreme Court dismisses case against regulation of plant breeders

Story: News Desk

The Supreme Court has, in a unanimous decision, dismissed a case filed against the regulation of plant breeders.

Parliament in 2020 passed the Plant Variety Protection Act, 2020 (ACT 1050) to regulate breeders.

A breeder under this law is a person who bred or discovered and developed a variety, the employer of the person or the successor in title of the person.

The law makes a breeder bound to any measure taken by Ghana to regulate the “production, certification and marketing of material of a variety of the importation or exportation of the material. 

The law requires breeders to apply for a plant breeder right in order to undertake the activity.  Food advocacy group, Food Sovereignty Ghana dragged the Attorney General to the Supreme Court contending that these portions of the law are unconstitutional.

The group through its lawyers argued that these portions of the law constitute “an unnecessary infringement on the farmers’ rights to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds and other propagating material.

They also pointed out that it hinders “farmers’ right to propagate material as same is hindered by authorisation”.

They pointed out that this law was passed to enforce an international convention which has not been ratified by Ghana.

The group wanted the Supreme Court to declare these portions of the law as unconstitutional. A seven-member Supreme Court panel presided over by Justice Paul Baffoe Bonnie on May 31 unanimously dismissed the case. Justice Bonnie pointed out that “the case fails in its entirety as the jurisdiction of the court has not been properly invoked”.

He said the Court’s full reasons will be available on October 2, 2023.  Other panel members were Justices Gabriel Pwamang, Professor Henrietta Mensah Bonsu, Lovelace Johnson, Emmanuel Y. Kulendi and Barba Ackah-Yensu. Lead counsel for the group Wayoe Ghanamannti told journalists  he disagreed  with the decisions.

“They said their jurisdiction has not been invoked. We are yet to see the reasons but we will wait and advise our clients and seek a review. It is trite law that domestic law and international law are different and must be ratified before they are used,” he stated.

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