New territories and technologies, the challenges for plant breeders

Dr Edgar Krieger, a seasoned professional in Intellectual Property protection for plant innovation, has been the CIOPORA Secretary General since 2004. His extensive experience as a lawyer at an international law firm, where he specialised in IP protection, particularly Plant Breeder’s Rights, and advised agricultural breeders in numerous court cases up to the European Court of Justice, underscores the significance of the CIOPORA AGM in the plant breeding industry.

“The CIOPORA Annual General Meeting (AGM) is not just another event on the calendar but a unique and exclusive platform for the global plant breeding industry. It’s a privilege for plant breeders, lawyers, and authorities worldwide to converge and discuss the crucial topics of plant breeders’ innovation and protection. This year, the meeting will be held in the vibrant city of Marrakech from April 15 to 19, and we will delve into intriguing topics related to the African continent. The ornamental sector’s development in markets like Kenya and the business opportunities for plant breeders in countries such as Morocco, Egypt, and South Africa underscores the need for a robust legal framework to protect innovators’ work in these regions.

The use of new technologies, their integration with traditional methods, how companies are implementing them, and the role that intellectual property protection should play in this new scenario will be a topic that we will unravel throughout the week. We will also delve into concepts such as EDV (Essentially Derived Varieties), which are crucial for understanding the legal aspects of plant breeding. These discussions will provide valuable insights into the future of plant breeding and the challenges and opportunities it presents.

The CIOPORA AGM will feature high-level speakers from different countries and industries to address the different topics. In addition, representatives from the most relevant authorities in plant variety protection, such as UPOV, ONSSA, CPVO, and USPTO, will be present. They will update attendees on the latest developments in their respective countries and organisations, providing a unique opportunity for our members to receive firsthand information about the work being done in different parts of the world. It also serves as a platform to expose authorities to the challenges of protecting new varieties.

The CIOPORA AGM will also be a perfect space to network and socialise with colleagues. We warmly invite the entire breeding sector to join the CIOPORA AGM in Marrakech, a significant event dedicated to discussing breeders’ innovation and protection. Over five days, we will engage in enlightening discussions, symposiums, conferences, and networking spaces. This is not just a meeting but a unique opportunity to learn about the latest developments in plant variety protection, network with industry leaders, and foster cooperation with other organisations. This meeting is an unparalleled chance to gain firsthand information about the work being done in different parts of the world and to directly expose authorities to the challenges faced when protecting new varieties.

We look forward to your active participation and the exciting possibilities it brings. In our discussions, CIOPORA will also continue to focus on China. China has become a positive example in implementing laws to safeguard plant breeders, but several enforcement cases show that there is room for improvement in this area. Back in the focus is India, a huge market that attracts our innovators. However, the heavy bureaucracy and the sub-standard protection of the breeders’ intellectual property hinder the entry of new varieties threatened by unauthorised reproduction.

The use of new breeding techniques for improvement will hold a special place in 2024. Since last year, we have closely followed the discussion in the European Union regarding new regulations on the use of certain New Genomic Technics (NGTs), which will signify a significant change in the business landscape for both European plant breeders and those from other continents.

CIOPORA plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of plant breeding, and your active participation is crucial to this process. We are actively contributing to the discussions in UPOV on Propagating Material, Harvested Material, and Provisional Protection. We work closely with other associations facing similar challenges, recognising that collaborative efforts can best achieve effective protection for our members and breeders. Your presence and input at the AGM will be highly valued and contribute significantly to our collective efforts.

CIOPORA shall also continue to cooperate with Global G.A.P. to support this important certification scheme in implementing the newly added IP compliance as a major must. Trade and retail have an obligation to check and make sure that the products they sell do not infringe on the Intellectual Property of the breeders. Global G.A.P. can be a valuable source in this respect.”

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This article was first published in the March 2024 issue of FloraCulture International.

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