Thursday, April 25, 2024

Turning point for NZ plant breeding

Avatar photo
New plant variety legislation will give New Zealand plant breeders stronger protection to guard against infringements to their intellectual property (IP).
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thomas Chin says royalties are important to help breeders reinvest in the development and delivery of more choice for farmers and crop end users.

New plant variety legislation will give New Zealand plant breeders stronger protection to guard against infringements to their intellectual property (IP).

This week marked the 40th anniversary of the NZ Plant Breeders Research Association’s (NZPBRA) accession to the global International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) Convention.

NZ’s domestic law, the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987, at 34 years old is deemed no longer fit for purpose and required under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) obligations to align with UPOV91 requirements.

NZPBRA general manager Thomas Chin says this marks significant times for NZ plant breeding.

“For plant breeders the next couple of months will mark two significant achievements as the industry celebrates the 40th anniversary of NZs accession to the UPOV Convention, and by the end of the year new regulation that will align our domestic law with the globally agreed convention,” Chin said.

“By the end of year Parliament is expected to pass the Plant Variety Rights Bill (PVR), which will align our domestic law with the globally agreed convention.

“This new legislation is important for plant breeders as it gives rights holders’ stronger measures to guard against infringements to their IP.”

Parliament is scheduled to have a modernised PVR Act in place by December 30.

A major change under the new PVR Bill will enable plant breeders, through the regulations, to seek exemptions to the practice of farm saved seed.

A key element in the legislation is a provision for plant breeders to receive royalties on farm saved seed.

In support of this, a heads of agreement document is being framed between plant breeders and farmer representatives.

“We are working with farmers as we speak to develop regulations to support this,” he said.

Following the passage of the Bill, Chin says plant breeders and farmers will work with officials to lay the groundwork for a royalty collection system for those varieties where a royalty will be paid on farm saved seed.

“Royalties are important as they help breeders reinvest to support the development and delivery of more choice for farmers and crop end users,” he said.

The efforts of breeders today are looking to develop new plant varieties, many that will not come to market for another 10-15 years.

Breeders typically focus on developing new and superior cultivars that have desired traits such as delivering more productivity, being resistant to diseases and pests, adapt to environmental stresses and be sustainable.

In recent times, breeders have developed or are working on a diverse range of innovative cultivars, including higher protein milling wheat for millers, bakers and food processors; improved yields of malting barley for maltsters and the brewing industry; and earlier maturing maize silage hybrids used by the dairy industry.

Enhanced pest resistant barley, lower gluten levels in wheat flour, higher nutrition ryegrass for pastoral livestock and longer keeping onions for consumers are more of the innovative cultivars in development.

“Plant breeders play a key role to keep our primary sector at the top of its game, but plant breeding requires a significant investment in time, in most cases more than 10 years, with financial resources of around $1-$2 million required to bring a cultivar to market,” he said.

“This long-awaited and much anticipated global alignment will ensure NZ plant breeders are protected, so they can keep at the top of their game for NZ’s farming sector well into the future.”

Total
0
Shares
People are also reading