Fragrant Rice Wins GI Status in EU

Article written by: Sophie Thoreau    |   Wednesday 13th March 2013

Following a long legal battle, the Department of Intellectual Property in Thailand has secured registration of Khao Hom Mali Thung Kula Rong-Hai as a Protected Geographical Indication in the European Community for a particular strain of fragrant jasmine rice.  The registration is viewed as a significant legal achievement as it is the first time a South-East Asian product has been recognised as a Protected Geographical Indication in the EU.

The Department renewed its efforts to achieve GI status in the EU following opposition by five members states which argued that Thailand could not use the phrase Khao Hom Mali exclusively as it is a generic term and that the condition that the packaging of the fragrant rice product occur within a certain geographical location in Thailand was unjustified and packaging should be allowed to take place outside the defined area.

The Department advanced its case on the basis that GI status was warranted because Khao Hom Mali Thung Kula Rong-Hai jasmine rice is only able to grow in a defined geographical region in Thailand, namely, the Thung Kula Ronghai area which encompasses five provinces in the northeast of Thailand.  Furthermore, in order to avoid grain combination, packaging of this jasmine rice product only occurs within this defined region.  Jasmine rice grown within the region has a particular sweet aroma and taste.

The registration is viewed as a significant legal achievement as it is the first time a South-East Asian product has been recognised as a Protected Geographical Indication in the EU.  The Department believes the securement of the Protected Geographical Indication status will increase the international profile of Khao Hom Mali Thung Kula Rong-Hai rice and bring significant economic advantages to Thai rice farmers.

Following its success, the Department now intends to seek registration of two well-known coffee varieties; silk yarns; and another type of rice as Protected Geographical Indications in the EU.  Watch this space for further updates!

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