Why do seeds have patents? Are GM seeds the only patented seeds?

Agricultural innovation plays a key role in driving long-term agricultural productivity, rural development and environmental sustainability by encouraging new solutions. For this reason, innovation needs to be supported and protected.

Contrary to what some say, GM seeds are not the only seeds with Intellectual Property Rights.  Almost all conventional (non-GM) and organic hybrid seeds are patented and cannot be saved for use in the next planting season.  

In any industry, the maintenance of IPR is an essential basis for innovation and progress. 
  • IPR encourages continued investment in research and development, and ensures the plant science industry maintains its strong innovative base.
  • Patents form the cornerstone of intellectual property protection.
  • The protection of regulatory data and confidential business information for biotechnology inventions are important to support innovation and development. 
  • The plant science industry is one of the world’s most research and development intensive sectors. It ranks in the top four global industries in terms of percentage of sales invested in R&D. 

The industry’s top 10 companies invest $2.25 billion, or 7.5% of sales, in the research and development of cutting-edge products in crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and plant biotechnology. All of these products aim to improve sustainable agricultural production.