While many things are still unclear, seed companies in the EU that use external genetic resources need to act now to make sure they are not liable to claims in the future. The Nagoya protocol will enter into force (EU regulation) probably around October 2014. From that moment on; seed companies that use genetic materials (for example plants collected abroad) need to apply “Due Diligence” to make sure that the material they use is covered by the right agreements. If you are collecting abroad, you need to make sure you get Prior Informed Consent (PIC) from the country or origin before you start collecting. Also you will need an agreement that covers the sharing of benefits (Mutually Agreed Terms – MAT). The contents of such an agreement is still largely up to you and the country involved. This could be a tedious process.
Genetic resources that have entered your company after the enforcement of the Nagoya protocol are subject to these new rules. If you do not follow the correct procedures you may be liable to claims from the countries of origin. The problem however is that it is still unclear what the definition of Due Diligence is. What if you are using commercially available seed from a competitor? And this competitor did not follow the correct procedure obtaining the PIC and MAT? Are you then liable? Questions that EU policy makers cannot answer at this moment. They lean toward exempting the commercially available seed, which would be very positive especially for the smaller breeding companies to keep access to sufficient genetic resources.
But what do you need to do right now?
1. Create an inventory and elaborate description of all genetic materials that you have at this moment
All genetic material that is present in your company before the enforcement in October is exempted from the Nagoya protocol. This means you are free to use these materials indefinitely. The are no specific rules on what this inventory should look like.
2. Analyze your workflow for entering genetic resources in your company
Entering new genetic material in your company will become a risk. You need to assess these risks and consider how new materials are introduced. Who is authorized to do this? What information do you need to accept new materials in your company? And most importantly, how do you track materials through the breeding process that ultimately make to commercialization?
How can Agri Information Partners help you?
Our company specializes in helping seed companies with management of their information. The combination of IT knowledge and seed business enables us to help you answer these type of complex issues.
For more information; please contact:
Evert Keuken MSc
Direct: +31 317 471310
Cell: +31 6 450 38124