Intellectual property

Access to genetic material continues to demand attention

Developing new varieties takes a lot of time and money. Breeders must be able to recoup their investments in breeding, in order to reinvest in the development of new varieties. Such a new variety therefore requires some form of intellectual property right. On the other hand, breeders need genetic material and should not be unnecessarily hindered in their access to genetic diversity. After all, the development of a successful variety requires many crosses between plants that together possess the desired properties. Breeders’ rights offer a good solution for this situation partly through the full breeding exemption.

What you need to know

The Netherlands has a great diversity of big and small propagation and breeding companies. This diversity contributes to the sector’s innovative power. That is why Plantum is committed to ensuring good availability of genetic material for all breeders. At the same time, attention is paid to the financial implications for companies.

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    Breeders’ rights

    Breeders’ rights give a company the exclusive right to propagate and sell its new variety for a certain period. Other breeders may freely use this protected variety for further breeding. This breeding exemption allows people to build on each other’s varieties, resulting in increasingly better varieties.

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    International commitment

    Internationally, the UPOV 1991 Convention is the standard for breeders’ rights legislation. Plantum contributes to improving this by participating in policy-defining dialogues. There are many bilateral contacts with third countries. 

    UPOV is the international organisation for the protection of new varieties of plants. 

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    Smallholder farmers

    Plantum, together with Euroseeds and Oxfam, has called for a further explanation of the concept of private and non-commercial use within the UPOV 1991 Convention. A working group within UPOV is working on this.

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    Patent law

    Patent law came into effect in the breeding sector at the beginning of this century. Patent law does not provide a complete breeding exemption: the use of genetic material under patent requires a licence from the patent holder. In 2017, the European Patent Office (EPO) decided to no longer grant new patents on classically bred plants, so plant breeders could again grow new crops unhindered.

With its work, Plantum contributes to SDG target #8