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EU Parliament Favors Extended Protection of Woody Plants

In July, we asked our CIOPORA breeders to voice their opinions about potentially extending CPVR rights of woody plants from 25 to 30 years and which specific genera of plants might benefit from this extension (see IPisode 11/2017). We are happy to report that, after a letter from CIOPORA – and other breeders and organizations – the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) supported the case and provided to the European Commission auxiliary facts and figures. Based on this, the EU Commission brought the matter forward in a meeting of the Agricultural Committee of the EU Parliament on November 22, where it received strong support from Parliament members and pleas from the Agricultural Committee in the EP to pass legislation in favor of the extensions. Four Members of Parliament (MEP)’s specifically voiced their support for their factions in the meeting.

“The majority of the Agricultural Committee wants that the small growers and breeders are granted enough time to recover their investments,” said MEP Annie Schreijer-Pierik, The Netherlands.


Based on feedback from members, CIOPORA wrote a letter on June 30, 207, to the CPVO requesting that the organization propose to the EU Commission to extend the duration of protection for 5 years for the following species of woody plants:

Blueberry                                          Hibiscus

Blackberry                                         Hydrangea

Raspberry                                          Hypericum

Sweet Berry Plants                            Ilex

Pot azalea                                          Lavandua

Bougainvillea                                      Mandevilla

Buddleja                                            Rhododendron

Ficus                                                  Rose


The letter also stated:

The investment made by breeders for the development of new varieties, should never be understated; the increased cost of land, alongside the establishment costs for planting new varieties have escalated significantly over the last few years….

Constrained by the weakness or absence of effective means of provisional protection, breeders have been compelled to adopt a rather conservative approach in respect of commercialization of their varieties during pendency periods. Some species like blueberries or garden roses, face relatively long and expensive establishment periods before they can generate significant fruit/plant returns. When adding up these two elements, the result equals breeder’s missing out on the first years of PBR protection, whereas commercialization of the variety, and consequential profit arising out of exploitation, is nearly inexistent.

For varieties like pot azalea and rhododendron, commercialization may only come after up to14 years from the first crossings. Four years from the first crossing, only one plant per candidate variety is available for selection purposes, therefore, if a seedling shows genetic potential, only a limited number of crossings in the particular breeding program can be made that year. It will take another year before having enough blossomed plants from the selections to intensify crossings. Moreover, another 4 or 5 years should be considered, before the next steps in plant enhancement can take place. Even after a selected variety is identified as a potential commercial cultivar, it will take another 5 years for an azalea breeder to further build up the stock, before he can see actual returns from the investment…

The Issue Moves Forward

According to a member of the Plant Health Unit of the EU Commission, the Commission took note of the positive opinion of the EU Parliament and will now carefully examine the issue and data provided from the CPVO and reflect on the next steps. If the elements provided are deemed comprehensive, the Commission will launch an in-depth analysis, including an assessment of the socio-economic and environmental impacts of extending the duration and consultation of all stakeholders to evaluate the option to prepare a legal proposal to amend the Article 19(1) of the Regulation (EU) 2100/94 on Community Plant Variety Rights (co-decision involving EP and Council).

We will keep you updated as this issue continues to move forward.


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