The content of this blog is the Potato World vision column by Geert Staring, Director of Breeders Trust, published in PotatoWorld magazine 2021/04.
Corona has demonstrated once again how quickly society can adapt and companies see opportunities to take advantage of the situation that has arisen. Being innovative is in our bones. And the legislator sees the importance of this and has structured the law in such a way that innovators get an extra boost in the form, for example, of patents and plant breeders' rights.
If, like me, you've been around for several decades, you see innovation as a constant, it’s happening all around you. In the rural areas, you’ll hardly see any farmer without solar panels, a new storehouse and/or a wind turbine. The skyline in the rural areas is constantly changing. The potato sector also continues to innovate in a direction that the older people among us would never have thought possible. In Belgium, but also in the Netherlands, you would have been ridiculed 40 years ago if you’d suggested that the Bintje would disappear there and that for the globally-operating seed potato trading companies, the issuing of licences would become an extremely lucrative business model.
Breeders Trust also continues to innovate. If rules have been set, whether you agree with them or not, then they must be enforced in such a way that even our neighbours wouldn’t dare evade them. Double standards are the deathblow to anyone of goodwill and undermines public support. This is why Breeders Trust now and then slaps someone’s wrist when they think they can evade Plant Breeders' Rights or are guilty of illegal seed multiplication or trading. This is why we’re also carrying out tests to find variety data via satellites using the latest techniques. Which variety is located at which coordinates? The initial results are promising. Each variety has its own algorithmically-based recognisable fingerprint. We can use this information as an additional enforcement tool to prevent varieties protected by plant breeders' rights from being multiplied anywhere in the world without the consent of our breeders (read innovators!). This is how innovation continues and how we ensure a strong potato chain.
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