Legislative Yuan Amends Taiwan Plant Variety and Plant Seed Act

Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan recently passed amendments to the Plant Variety and Plant Seed Act intended to prevent the theft and cultivation of Taiwan's plant materials and seeds in other countries. 
Plant seeds are the foundation of Taiwan’s advanced agricultural sector. In recent years, there have been an increasing number of cases where seeds and other plant materials have been stolen and cultivated in other countries.  In some cases, agricultural products based on stolen Taiwanese technology have even been imported into Taiwan. These practices not only destroy the substantial investments Taiwan has made in developing unique plant varieties, but also impact the livelihoods of Taiwanese farmers.  
For example, the Tainung 17 Pineapple (金鑽鳳梨) is an innovative cultivar researched and developed in Taiwan. However, China not only banned the importation of Tainung 17 pineapples in March 2021, but also disclosed that it possesses Tainung 17 pineapple seeds. This has raised concerns over the illegal outflow of plant seeds for Taiwanese varieties like the Tainung 17 cultivar that have competitive advantages in export markets.
To interdict the illegal outflow of plant seeds from Taiwan, the Legislative Yuan (立法院) passed a bill amending the “Plant Variety and Plant Seed Act” (植物品種及種苗法) on May 2, 2023. These amendments aim to safeguard valuable and competitive plant varieties from Taiwan. They include three key changes:

  1. The central competent authority, which is the Council of Agriculture of the Executive Yuan (行政院農業委員會; COA), is authorized to prohibit export and import of plant seeds, harvested materials, and directly processed products.
  2. Violating COA prohibitions on import and expert is criminalized: a person who violates these prohibitions can be sentenced to imprisonment for up to three years, detention, and/or fined NTD 600,000 (approx. USD 20,000) to NTD 3 million (approx. USD 98,000).   Contraband and the proceeds of the crime is subject to confiscation.  The amendments also provide for concurrent penalties on corporations.
  3. In addition to criminal fines, administrative fines also apply to prohibited export of plant seeds. These fines range from NTD 500,000 (approx. USD 16,000) to NTD 2,500,000 (approx. USD 81,000).
These amendments to the Plant Variety and Plant Seed Act will take effect on a date announced by Taiwan’s Executive Yuan.
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