The existing US political climate has complicated Mexico's economic, social and political status. Trump's declaration of no interest in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, his North American Free Trade Agreement renunciation-renegotiation warning, the country's aggressive immigration policy and the threats to US companies that want to establish plants in Mexico have all added to this situation. However, despite the circumstances, the stability of the Mexican peso against the US dollar is surprising.
In this context, Mexico has had to consider how to move forward. One essential issue that has received little media attention is agriculture. While this issue is relevant to the automotive industry, it is of even greater relevance to the food industry. In recent decades, Mexico's countryside has shrunk and for many years it has been unable to generate enough food for the country to be self-sufficient in this regard. However, an opportunity to take advantage of this future crisis has arisen.
Plant breeds can be protected by:
- patents if they have been genetically manipulated; and
- breeder titles of plant varieties if they are the result of plant breeding.
The Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development and Fisheries (SNICS), the authority on plant varieties, have made significant efforts to develop the protection of plant varieties and established the National Catalogue of Plant Varieties. Since the creation of the National Seed Inspection and Certification System, SNICS has been notably active in seed certification. As soon as the Federal Law on Plant Varieties was promulgated, such protection was initiated. At present, 2,511 varieties of 63 species are registered under federal law. These figures are healthy; however, given the agricultural nature of the Mexican countryside, they should be much higher.
As expected, the plant varieties that are most commonly protected in Mexico are corn, sorghum, wheat, beans, nopal, chilli and rice. For all of these varieties, especially maize, the rights holders are almost 50/50 nationals and non-nationals.
As Mexico considers its dependence on its northern neighbour, it is timely to promote the protection of plant varieties developed in Mexico, as the proper protection of this type of asset will generate wealth, promote innovation and strengthen the economy. This will enable Mexico to attain its much desired self-sufficiency with regard to food.
For further information on this topic please contact Fernando Becerril at Becerril, Coca & Becerril SC by telephone (+525 55 254 0400) or email ([email protected]). The Becerril, Coca & Becerril website can be accessed at www.bcb.com.mx.
This update was edited from an article originally published in High Level magazine.