When a harvested material from a protected plant variety, such as seeds, is used for further sowing and cultivating, royalties need to be paid to the breeder of this protected variety. However, according to breeders, farm-saved seeds are sometimes used as an excuse to avoid paying royalties, and clear definitions should be established internationally. Conversely, small farmer associations think that once farmers buy a protected variety, they should be able to re-use those seeds, exchange or sell them.
That’s the topic of an UPOV seminar held a couple of days ago, as summarized by IP-Watch. It’s one of those things, I think, where any reasonable person should be able to see both sides of the argument. Which are eloquently presented in the extensive materials provided.
In the end, though, I was particularly encouraged by this statement:
Axel Metzger of the University of Humboldt, Germany, said not many cases about breeders’ right infringement have been brought to court in Germany.
You need to get to the next CBN Variety Showcase. It’s a mix of public plant breeders, independent breeders, and farmers doing both complex breeding and simple improvements on older heirlooms – each of whom is paired with a chef. Those who attend get to learn about the breeding process and goals, and then sample dishes crafted from the crops. For example, a pastry chef (Nora Antene from Tusk) made a “Corn Silk Pie” with sweet corn bred by Bill Tracy (in a participatory plant breeding project with a number of farmers). This wasn’t an actual pie made from corn silks (but hey, has anyone tried it?) but rather a pie in the texture and tradition of chocolate silk. It may have been the best thing I’ve eaten in life. Although the hulless pepito ice cream was pretty damn good.
That’s from a comment on a recent Nibble on the Culinary Breeding Network that we thought deserved a higher profile. There’s a video of the event too.
Oh, and sorry about the slow blogging lately. Lots of travelling around still to come too, alas.
You all know you can live stream different bits of the World Food Prize whatnot, right? Including the breakfasts and lunches, which seems extreme, and yet at the same time appropriate. I just hope orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are on the menu.