China has the second largest seed market in the world. Annually, China uses roughly 12.5 million tons of planting seed. In 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) estimated the seed market to be approximately RMB $104 billion (U.S. $17 billion) of which 65 percent was hybrid corn, hybrid rice, vegetable and fruit seeds.
China is in the process of revising its seed law in an effort to develop a stronger domestic seed industry. In January 2014, a revised draft seed law (Seed Law) was completed by the National People’s Congress (NPC) Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. In August 2014, the draft was sent to the State Council for review. It is expected that the Seed Law will be ready for reading by the Standing Committee of the NPC some time in April 2015.
The draft Seed Law is expected to improve the level of legal protections available for plant varieties. For example, the draft Seed Law stipulates the content, ownership and grant conditions for plant variety protection (PVP) including application, examination, grant, implementation, infringement and exceptions, the period of protection, termination and invalidation. Importantly, the draft increases the penalties for the infringement and counterfeiting (such as passing off). Moreover, the draft reflects some of the advancements of the 1991 International Convention for the Protection of New Plant Varieties Union (UPOV Convention) such as extending the period of protection to 5 years, extending the object of protection from propagation material to receiving goods, etc.