EDV (Essentially Derived Varieties) | Update December 2022

Development of UPOV’s Explanatory Note on EDV (Essentially Derived Varieties)

At the end of October, Ms Mia Buma informed members directly from the UPOV meetings in Geneva, where there was much attention on the revision of UPOV’s Explanatory Notes (EXN) on Essentially Derived Varieties (EDV).

SPG Members will have received the annexe Statement on EDV for UPOV CAJ and Council (24.10.2022) of the joint breeder’s industry from Ms Buma.

Members can also view this document in the AIPH Community Hub in the Novelty Protection Forum section and discuss it. The annexe is also available for download here.

Discussions in the UPOV meetings were exceptionally animated and in a special separate informal meeting organised by the International Seed Federation (ISF). Most observers (all the breeder’s representatives and AIPH) hoped the draft version of the EXN on EDV would be approved by the Council (October 27, last). This draft version had the full support of UPOV’s EDV Working Group members.

As a fallback option, the observers suggested repealing the current EXN on EDV (approved by the Council in 2017) since this version does more harm than good. But both the strong call of the breeders to approve the draft of the revised EXN on EDV and the repeal suggestion failed.
Some UPOV member countries with a strong biotech sector were against the approval of the new EXN version on EDV.

Breaking the deadlock

The Council, hoping to break the deadlock, decided to provide the following points:

  1. Install a new Working Group with only members from UPOV’s Consultative Council (in which the observers do not participate in accordance with UPOV’s structure)
  2. Organise a seminar on the subject of ‘The interaction between plant variety protection and the use of plant breeding technologies’ on 22 March 2023. UPOV invites all member countries and observers to bring forward suggestions for qualified speakers of the subject.

The joint breeders made a second oral statement in the Council meeting on 28th October 2022.  The Statement on EDV for UPOV Council (28.10.2022).

Despite the seriousness of this call, the statement did not achieve the desired effect.

Members can view this document in the AIPH Community Hub in the Novelty Protection Forum section and discuss it. The statement is also available for download here.

Ms Buma brings to your attention one sentence from the breeder’s call:

‘The breeding community is disappointed and deeply concerned about yesterday’s decision of the Consultative Committee about the Draft Explanatory Notes on EDV. We would like to repeat that the Draft Explanatory Notes is supported by the vast majority of the UPOV members, the growers and the entire breeding community, which is using a diverse range of breeding tools including genome editing. We could not imagine that a text which is providing recognition to the hard work of breeders, large and small, would not find approval by all UPOV members.’

As explained before to members of SPG, the need to clarify the EDV principle is more urgent than ever because, through the use of CRISPR (both for gene function analysis and for directly targeted mutagenesis), many more mutants are expected. To illustrate this: in the instance that biotech firms use a PBR-protected variety, add something through CRISPR, and successfully apply for a patent, they leave the owner of the PBR-protected variety with empty hands. As a consequence, the joint breeders fear that fewer new varieties will enter the market, which does harm the growers and farmers. A clear EDV system could avoid this undesirable situation.

Ms Buma will continue to follow the developments of the new Working group on EDV, and AIPH will keep you informed. AIPH will work in consultation with CIOPORA to suggest a qualified speaker for the seminar proposed in item 2) above.