European breeders demand an update of the regulation on plant variety rights

European breeders and the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) have sent a letter to the European Commission asking for a revision of Regulation 2100/94 on the protection of Community Plant Variety Rights (CPVR). AIPH, CIOPORA, Euroseeds and Plantum, the entities that signed the petition, have taken this step after verifying that these rights have not been included in the Commission's Roadmap to improve and strengthen the management of intellectual and industrial property in key sectors, in the face of the health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

These entities say in the letter that "an effective breeding sector is essential to achieve a number of social objectives, such as the improvement of sustainable production systems and the quality for consumption of agricultural and horticultural products." They say that the strategies promoted in the EU, such as the Green Pact and From Farm to Table, will not meet their objectives without plant breeding. Therefore, they recall that "breeders need an effective intellectual property system to continue investing in this important task."

The document sent to the Commission reviews a series of provisions of the basic regulation that require improvement, and it is argued that “no matter how solid the CPVR system is at an international level, it is 25 years old and not adapted to the latest technological advances in agriculture, horticulture and plant improvement.” In fact, they say that the sector already requested changes in 2011, but they have not been carried out.

The signatories also mention the recent decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in case C-176/18 (Nadorcott) on mandarin trees. “These trees were marketed by a grower without the breeder's consent in the period between the application and the granting of the license, which shows the weaknesses of the provisional protection and the protection of the harvested material under CPVR.”

European breeders argue that this is a serious problem, especially in the case of fruit trees, as the trial period required before the license is granted can last as long as six years. Also, the limited protection of the harvested material is particularly detrimental to varieties grown outside the EU in places with little or no intellectual property protection and then marketed within the EU.

Breeders have also called for greater control of the Farm Saved Seed system with regard to payments and for a longer duration of CPVR protection for woody crops, flower bulbs and asparagus.


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