European Seed magazine meets up with Andreas Popp, Head of Global Intellectual Property – Biotechnology, from BASF, one of the nine founding members of this new platform and finds out why European farming needs this initiative.
European Seed magazine (ES): Andreas, you were personally at the start of setting up this initiative. Could you tell us why it was necessary to establish such a platform and give some insights into the journey so far?
Andreas Popp (AP): The European Green Deal initiative has put more pressure on agriculture to provide better seeds at a faster pace. I, together with the other founding companies of the ACLP, believe that more innovation in this area is the best way forward and that the availability of IP protection, by both plant variety protection and patent rights, is an important driver to innovate. This also includes enabling breeders, from small or large organisations, to innovate by producing new and better plant varieties.
When I heard about the first ideas of the ACLP, I received immediate support in BASF to bring the initiative to life. What is key for me is supporting technology transfer in a transparent, open, and fair innovation ecosystem. This will enable growers to face the challenges ahead for European agriculture.
ES: And I understand that this vision is widely shared among seed breeders in Europe and helps create common ground. Who are the other founding members bringing the ACLP to life?
AP: It is our aim to consolidate the common ground for all plant breeders, regardless of the size of their organisation. For your info, the other eight founding members (all from different sized companies), are: BNA, HZPC, Elsoms, Corteva, Bayer, Limagrain, KWS and Syngenta as well as BASF which makes nine members. For more information, visit the Members Archive of the Agricultural Crop Licensing Platform (aclp.eu)
ES: So, in a nutshell, the ACLP is providing a simple legal framework enabling access — even for small seed companies — to marketed patented traits in agricultural crops with complete transparency for members? Correct?
AP: Yes, the ACLP is a collaborative source for plant breeding innovations. The ACLP will welcome anyone who develops improved agricultural crop plant varieties and/or traits in Europe, including universities and research institutes, public or private. Small breeders as members will benefit from easy access and free membership during the first five years of existence of the ACLP and will receive special legal assistance service. By the way, when I am referring to Europe, I am inferring to all the countries that are covered by the ACLP, namely all the countries that are members of the European Patent Organization, as well as Russia and Ukraine.
There are three aims of the ACLP that will benefit the objectives of the EU Green Deal and the Farm2Fork strategy:
- Improve agricultural crop productivity and sustainability through plant breeding, made available to European breeders, long before the expiration of the patent rights that cover them.
- Provide breeding rights for patented traits contained in commercial varieties available on the open market, providing a contractual and uniform limited breeders’ exemption across Europe — this did not exist before the ACLP platform.
- And the third more visionary objective would be to speed up the technology transfer of Novel Genomic Techniques (NGTs) by making it easier for members to adopt these innovative traits to create seed varieties.
Editor’s Note: The ACLP will be setting up the legal entity in Brussels. If any breeding company or public institution is interested in becoming a member or simply wishes to know more: contact – Agricultural Crop Licensing Platform (aclp.eu)
Read part two.
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More Articles From Volume 10 Issue 2:
How One NGO is Lifting Farmers Out of Poverty
Aiming for Mission Zero: How Seed Applied Technologies Provide A Strong Contribution Towards Sustainability
Dark Skies Over Global Food Security. Why Are Those Over Europe Still Blue?
The Unitary Patent System – A new pillar for innovation in Europe