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ABS Consultation Forum: Most Commercial Plant Varieties Out of Regulation Scope

December 11, Brussels – at the latest meeting of the ABS consultation forum, the Commission revealed a draft document on “Commercial Plant Varieties under the EU ABS Regulation”. Although officially still a “discussion paper with no legal standing”, the document establishes clear rules for the application of the EU ABS Regulation to commercial plant varieties relieving the developers of the majority of such varieties from the due diligence obligations under the Regulation.

According to the document, only use of wild plant material covered by the Nagoya Protocol is considered an act of “utilization” and, therefore, gives rise to due diligence obligations. Any subsequent breeding activity with the material of the variety thus bred is excluded from the scope of the Regulation. Of course, that does not preclude certain benefit sharing obligations in respect of the further commercial use of the variety being imposed by the provider country in its contractual relations with the initial user.

The document further provides that “commercial variety should be understood as plant variety made available on the market”, which either is legally protected by the Community or a national PVR, is registered in a national or common catalogue of varieties of agricultural and vegetable species, or has been entered in any other public or private list according to the EU legislation with officially recognized description and denomination.

This document is good news for plant breeders and shows that the continued efforts of the industry associations, including CIOPORA, to obtain a workable framework for the plant genetic resources have paid off.

Although the document is yet to become official and, once published, will probably take on a different form, reportedly, its contents have been approved by the member states and are likely to be incorporated into the vertical guidance. The latter is expected to be released in the course of 2019.


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