Wide support for extension of growers' rights

The European Commission is working on the proposal to extend the growers' right for bulbs, asparagus and shrubberies such as raspberry and blueberry from twenty five to thirty years. This was made clear on November 22 during an explanation in the Agricultural Commission of the European Parliament where, at the request of CDA MEP Anni Schreijer-Pierik, the proposal was discussed.

Plantum indicates they are happy with the wide support that came from the Parliament and hopes that the European Commission will soon bring forward a concrete proposal.

MEP Schreijer-Pierik requested this debate to make it clear to the European Commission that the Agricultural Commission in the European Parliament supports the proposal. The Commission didn't initially seem convinced of this. A plea from Schreijer-Pierik and the support from MEPs Bas Belder (SGP/CU) and Jan Huitema (VVD), however, removed this doubt. "Most of the Agricultural Commission want our small growers and breeders to have time to make back their investments," says Schreijer-Pierik.

The growers' right guarantees breeders sole rights to the variety they developed. However, for some crops this time is shortened due to the long period that is needed to multiply enough seeding material and due to the reservations of the market, which sometimes make it difficult to make back the costs incurred through growers' rights. This is even more so for the many medium and small companies active in these crops and that are often specialised in one or more crops and therefore don't have the R&D capacities of the large seed companies. Sufficient innovation capacity is also necessary for these crops. Niels Louwaars, director of Plantum emphasises: "Breeding can help bring out important improvements. Selection for resistance is increasingly important to reduce the use of chemical pesticides. The quality for the consumer is also largely determined by the plant material. We are convinced that extending the length of the growers' rights will benefit the entire chain and assume the European Commission will soon take action."
The term for growers' rights in Europe is 25 years but can be extended to 30 years for specific crops. This has already happened for trees, grapevines for wine and potatoes. Plantum already submitted a request in 2008 to extend the growers' right protection for bulbs for five extra years. Asparagus and woody crops were later added to this proposal. The European union of seeding good companies ESA and other large breeders of vegetative multiplied crops, CIOPRA were also involved in this. The request for bulbs is actively supported from the Netherlands by the Koninklijke Algemene Vereniging voor Bloembollencultuur (KAVB). The European member states united in the Council of the European growers' rights bureau already concluded that there are sufficient technical arguments for a longer protection term for the crops concerned back in the spring of 2016. The European Commission has, however, been very reserved in enacting this so far, partially because they want to be sure that an extension will be positively experienced by all parties in the chain, from producers to consumer. The European Commission expects to be able to provide clarity before the summer; especially now that they feel supported by the positive signal from the European Parliament.

source: Plantum

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