europeanseedVOLUME 3 ISSUE 1 EUROPEAN-SEED.COM SUNFLOWERS DEVELOPING BRIGHT NEW VARIETIES NEW PLANT BREEDING TECHNIQUES PROTECTING INNOVATION THE NEXT EVOLUTION UKRAINES SEED INDUSTRY BIOTECH IN EUROPE WHAT DOES IT HOLD THE FUTURE OF EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 1 TABLE OF CONTENTS FEATURES Authorising Genetically Engineered Crops........................................................06 GMOs A chance to get it right in 2016 ...........................................................08 Your Passport to the World the OECD Seed Schemes .................................10 Always Look on the Bright Side ..........................................................................14 Portugals GM Maize Production........................................................................18 Spains GM Maize Production ............................................................................22 New Breeding Techniques...................................................................................24 Plant Breeding and Intellectual Property............................................................28 Resistant Potato Awaits Approval.......................................................................32 Feeding the Planet Energy for Life The Legacy of Expo 2015 ........................39 DEPARTMENTS Editors Message .................................................................................................04 Spotlight Ukraine ................................................................................................36 Global Seed Watch..............................................................................................40 Regulatory News..................................................................................................42 Industry News ......................................................................................................43 Extras....................................................................................................................46 Calendar of Events ..............................................................................................47 Giant Views...........................................................................................................48 24 10 32 18 europeanseed VOLUME 3 ISSUE 1 ON THE COVER Sunower photo courtesy of Syngenta. 2 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM europeanseed EUROPEAN-SEED.COM VOLUME 3 ISSUE 1 Suite 34 67-68 Hatton Garden London EC1N 8JY United Kingdom PUBLISHER Shawn Brook sbrookissuesink.com EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Marcel Bruins mbruinsissuesink.com MANAGING EDITOR Lindsay Hoffman lhoffmanissuesink.com STAFF WRITERS Julie Deering Mark Halsall Shannon Schindle Marc Zienkiewicz ADVERTISING SALES Craig Armstrong carmstrongissuesink.com Fabien Castel f.castelbreizywood.com Hiten Shah hshahissuesink.com DIGITAL MEDIA SALES Jill Hollosi jhollosiissuesink.com MARKETING Lynne Roy CREATIVE Theresa Kurjewicz Lesley Nakonechny DIGITAL MEDIA CREATIVE Nick Buhr Kyle Dratowany Caleb MacDonald CIRCULATION Dean French dfrenchissuesink.com CONTRIBUTORS Kari Belanger Matthias Blum Alessia Cogliandro Almudena De La Cruz Francois Desprez Jean-Christophe Gouache Micheal Ryan Richard Smart Beat Spath Claude Tabel Arno van t Hoog and Justus Wesseler ADVISORY BOARD Jennifer Clowes International Seed Federation Eric Devron Union Franaise des Semenciers Anton van Doornmalen Rijk Zwaan Stephanie Franck Plfanzenzucht Oberlimpurg Chris Green Green Resources Ltd. Martin Gruss Bayer CropScience Nigel Moore KWS UK Ltd. Jonathan Ramsay Monsanto Antonio Villaroel Asociacin Nacional de Obtentores Vegetales www.facebook.comEuropeanSeed twitter.comEuropeanSeed SUBSCRIPTIONS European Seed is published four times a year. European subscription rates are one year 20. International one year 75. To subscribe please email subscribeissuesink.com. Please recycle where facilities exist. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Printed in England FINELY CRAFTED SEEDS EXPERTS. Put your trust in our industry leading experts in wholesale seed and contract seed production. We are an open pollinated vegetable herb and flower seed company that offers you the knowledge resources and creativity to create quality beautiful and terrific tasting results. We serve the globe ask about our extensive inventory. Albany Oregon U.S.A. 541.928.7100 infowildwestseed.com wildwestseed.com Need to add Contributors The Place for Seeds Your reliable partner in the southern hemisphere with more than 30 years delivering high quality seed to the world. www.anpros.cl Phone 56-223353686 23353687 Nueva Los Leones 07 Of 1301 Santiago. SEEDS FROM CHILE Chilean Seed Association 4 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM EDITORS MESSAGE THE FUTURE OF BIOTECH IN EUROPE LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION Marcel Bruins n France in the early 1770s poor wheat harvests in 1773 and 1774 caused increas- ing grain prices and subsequently high bread prices. During the period before the spring harvest of 1775 cereal reserves were exhausted while new crops had not yet arrived. The result was a series of riots from April to May 1775 often referred to as the Flour War. The Flour War can be considered a pre-revolutionary event or a harbinger of the French Revolution. A little over a decade later during the agrarian crisis of 178889 it is again a failing wheat harvest that causes economic hardship for the people of France generating discon- tent. The common people are once again starving in a relatively short period of time. This was the final straw for the people of France and the start of the French Revolution. The period that followed changed the future of France and Europe forever. Fast-forward to December 2010 in North Africa. Adverse weather in major grain-pro- ducing areas has taken its toll and put a heavy burden on global stocks. Food prices skyrocket and make life virtually impossible for the regions poor. Increasing food prices and famine rates associated with climate change are generally considered to have acted as stressors contributing to the wide- spread unrest in the region referred to as the Arab Spring. Governments were forced from power in Tunisia Egypt Libya and Yemen civil uprisings erupted in Bahrain and Syria major protests broke out in Algeria Iraq Jordan Kuwait Morocco and Sudan and minor protests occurred in Mauritania Oman Saudi Arabia Djibouti Western Sahara and Palestine. Nowadays more and more scholars are convinced high food prices and scarcity of food leads to a tipping point when almost any- thing can trigger a riot like a lighted match in a dry forest. There have been other numerous events in human history where failing crops and sus- ceptible plant varieties changed the course of human history. For example the fungal dis- ease potato late blight devastated a staple food that fed much of Ireland in the mid-1800s. The subsequent Irish potato famine caused the I emigration of about 1.5 million Irish to the United States and Canada. Those newcom- ers participated in the development of labour unions and moulded the nations characters in numerous other ways. Late blight continues to threaten potato production in many regions of the world. The Salem witch trials in the 1690s are believed to have started as a result of ergot- infected rye bread. In the 1800s coffee rust devastated British coffee plantations in Ceylon and because of this the British switched to growing and drinking tea. What does it take for regulators and deci- sion makers to realise that enabling innovation in plant breeding is crucial for the well-being of the people on this planet With the new breeding techniques we have in front of us another set of wonderful tools. These tools have been proven safe are able to help deal with a number of stubborn problems in terms of variety improvement and have numerous other benefits. Whats the hold-up Were going to need all the help we can get. According to UNICEF every 3.6 seconds a person dies of starvation. Usually it is a child under the age of five. In the course of reading this editorial thats about 40 people With over 800 million hungry people across the globe it is time that we change course. Were at a critical juncture where population is increasing and there are more mouths to feed. This combined with rapid soil degradation fast depletion of ground- water pressure to use a different toolbox in terms of pest and disease control and extreme weather events are all collectively putting enormous pressure on farming. It is time to recognise the fact that agriculture cannot remain the same not in a single coun- try and not across the globe. It is important that we are open to another paradigm shift to deal with what is ahead of us. All it takes is a bit of courage Who will be the first politician to show that shehe is courageous enough to stand up for new breeding techniques Long live the revolution Marcel Bruins editorial director European Seed mbruinsissuesink.com Zrn Harvesting GmbH Co. KG D-74214 Schntal phone 49 7942 947360 infozuern.de www.zuern.de 6 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM everal authors suggest there is a gridlock of the European Unions approval process for genetically engineered crops. To test this hypothesis we analysed the voting behav- iour of EU Member States for voting results on the approval of GE crops from 2003 to 2015. Unfortunately no reliable data is available pre-2003a time which includes the EUs quasi-moratorium on GE crops. In terms of the approval process it is the European Food Safety Authority that deter- mines the safety of a GE crop. Once that is done the Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health SCFCAH votes on the application. If the SCFCAH does not reach a decision the Appeal Committee pre-Lisbon Treaty is known as the Council votes on the application. If again a decision is not reached the final decision is left to the European Commission Figure 1. All EU Member States are represented on both committees decisions are made by a qual- ified majority voting system the rules of which have changed over time. VOTING BEHAVIOUR The analysed data includes 50 events as well as 61 ballots at the SCFCAH and 57 ballots at the CouncilAppeal Committee. It should be noted that the EUs membership has grown over time. Therefore the number of voting opportunities per Member State is a function of how long it has been a member of the EU and the number of ballots during its membership. Generally the longer a MS has been a member the higher the number of voting opportunities. The Netherlands Sweden Finland the United Kingdom the Czech Republic Estonia Romania and Spain have voted for with a frequency of at least 80 per cent. Austria Luxembourg Greece Hungary Cyprus and Lithuania have voted against with a frequency of at least 80 per cent whereas Italy France Bulgaria and Ireland abstained at least 40 per cent of the time at the SCFCAH. Finland and the Netherlands always voted for and Austria always against at both the SCFCAH and the CouncilAppeal Committee. Croatia Luxembourg and Latvia have never voted for at the CouncilAppeal Committee. The SCFCAH represents the first step in the political decision-making process. Should MSs fail to vote in favour of an appli- cation here the political process continues with the Commission becoming involved Figure 1. Descriptive statistics indicate the voting behaviour of the SCFCAH and the CouncilAppeal Committee is similar Figures 2 and 3. We treated every for vote as a positive statement for supporting a GE crops author- isation. The against and abstain votes and several forms of absenteeism were interpreted as negative statements opposing authorisation. We used a set of logistic regressions for testing whether a MSs identity an applicants domicile and a crop plants genetic trait are suitable explanatory variables for explain- ing a MSs voting decision. This was done by first testing a MSs identity and then adding explanatory variables. The rationale for using this method is to assess whether voting deci- sions can be explained by factors associated with a MSs characteristics i.e. endogenous factors or whether MS-specific effects pre- vail if explanatory variables based on qualita- tive information e.g. crop type or the crops intended use are added to the model. Theoretically what appears to be a MS-specific effect may in fact reflect a MS-specific concern or opportunity leading respectively to a negative or positive vote. For example Scandinavian MSs tend to accept vote for GE crops but it is unknown whether these MSs voting behaviours are related to lib- eral and open-minded societies or whether the positive votes are associated with for exam- ple factors favouring the MSs bio-economies agricultural and biotech sectors. We use a set of logistic regression models for disentan- gling these factors and for testing if they can be used for explaining the variation in voting behaviours. The analysis shows that a MSs identity i.e. endogenous factors is statistically the most significant factor driving voting behav- iour. Other factors such as a GE crops char- acteristics play an unimportant role i.e. do not influence the voting outcomeall GE crops are seen in the same light in explain- ing MS voting behaviour in the context of our study and assumptions. This empirical find- ing supports the gridlock hypothesis. We have also found an overall positive time trend sug- gesting a persistent but slightly weakening gridlock. We postulate that it is unlikely in the AUTHORISING GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS FIGURE 1. Approval process in the EU for GE crops with a favourable EFSA opinion and a positive draft decision by the EC modified from WESSELER and KALAITZANDONAKES 2011 Present and Future EU GMO policy. In Arie Oskam Gerrit Meesters and Huib Silvis eds. EU Policy for Agriculture Food and Rural Areas. Second Edition pp. 23-323 23-332. Wageningen Wageningen Academic Publishers. A CLOSER LOOK AT THE VOTING BEHAVIOUR OF EU MEMBER STATES. BY JUSTUS WESSELER RICHARD SMART AND MATTHIAS BLUM A REGULATORY GRIDLOCK Applicant NCA EFSA European Commission EC Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health SCFCAH EC AC EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 7 foreseeable future for this trend to persist to the point where a qualified majority is reached. CHANGING THE GRIDLOCK We assume that each MS casts its ballot inde- pendently. The only positive contribution toward achieving a qualified majority is a for vote. We therefore scrutinised each ballot for all MSs that prevented a qualified majority namely those that voted against abstained or were absentees. From this subset of voters we found the minimum number of MSs needed to achieve a qualified majority and who they were. In practise we sequentially added MSs votes until a qualified majority could theoretically be achieved. When counting the number of MSs in this subset for ballots in which more than one MS of equal rank vote weight could have con- tributed to the total we counted them all con- sistent with our assumption of independence. Three of the four heavyweight MSs namely France Germany and Italy the UK is the fourth feature prominently in preventing a qualified majority. Since its accession to the EU in May 2004 Poland has become an impor- tant and consistent opponent contributor to the against vote due to its sizeable vote weight while Spain Polands equal in vote weight became a consistent supporter from 2007 onwards. Although the number of ballots with the latest double majority voting rule is low early evidence reveals that the influence of Germany France and Italyin this order on achieving a qualified majority has strength- ened due to their new larger vote weights. VOTING RESULTS NO CHANGE The status quo of not reaching a qualified major- ity is likely to persist unless Germany France and Italy collectively change their positions to a for vote supporting GE crops. The 2015 proposal by the European Commission for MSs to opt out of approvals for cultivation is designed in part to improve the process of authorisations according to the EC i.e. facilitate an increase in the number of GE crops authorised for culti- vation in the EU. According to our results this outcome is unlikely as it would require more MSs to vote in favour of approval. This would require at least two of the three heavyweights France Germany or Italy to change their latest voting behaviour. Importantly it would require them to vote in favour of the most sensi- tive use category namely cultivation. The strong policy signals from Germany and France against cultivation of GE crops further supports our doubts that their voting behaviour will change in the foreseeable future. Italy might be the only heavyweight likely to changethis is based on its histori- cal voting behaviour and demand by some of its pro-biotech farmers to access the tech- nology. Even if the opt-out proposal does not result in a qualified majority for approval the time the EC takes after the voting at the Appeal Committee could shorten as the EC might be under less pressure from MSs to delay a final decision and can therefore justify accepting the European Food Safety Authoritys favourable opinions by indicating MSs that had voted against cultivating GE crops in their countries had in fact opted out anyway. FIGURE 3. The total number of for and against votes cast at the CAC expressed as a percentage of the maximum possible number of votes according to each EU MSs weight for ballots authorizing GE crops from 2004 to 2015 versus the QM threshold. FIGURE 2. The total number of for and against votes cast at the SCFCAH expressed as a percentage of the maximum possible number of votes according to each EU MSs weight for ballots authorizing GE crops from December 2003 to December 2014 versus the QM threshold. Editors Note This contribution is a sum- mary of the paper EU Member States Voting for Authorizing Genetically Engineered Crops A Regulatory Gridlock in the German Journal of Agricultural Economics 64 4 244-262 by Richard Smart Matthias Blum and Justus Wesseler. 8 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM DurationofEFSARiskAssessementmonths Risk Assessement Duration 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 FIGURE 1. EFSA TIMELINES FOR RISK ASSESSMENT OF GMOS. ast year was a very eventful one for GMO authorisations in Europe. The spring saw Member States given license to ban farmers from cultivating EU-approved GMOs as well as a similar proposal to allow national bans on the use of imported GM crops for food and feed thus endangering the internal market. The spring was also the end of an 18-month de facto moratorium with a record 17 GM crops being approved for import. Later in the year and after careful examination Members of the European Parliament rejected the Commissions proposal on imports as well as a proposal for another moratorium. The year ended with a further two products being approved within the legislative timelines pro- viding the much-needed hope that the path ahead will be more predictable stable and science based. THE TICKING CLOCK It is clear in terms of cultivation the EU has provided Member States with a tool to stop farmers from using approved innovative prod- ucts if they Member States so decide. For this and other reasons the demand for and use of GM commodities continues to be substantial in the EU. Indeed every year we import 34 million tonnes of GM soybeans which equates to the weight of all Europeans put together. European livestock farmers depend heavily on these imports since there is no realistic alter- native the production of soybeans in the EU accounts for 1.7 million tonnes less than five per cent of EU need. About 70 GMO products are currently authorised for import into the EU of which 19 were approved in 2015 alone. With such high dependence on imports it is crucial for the EU to ensure that its approval process follows leg- islative timelines and is predictable given the main exporting countries take on average less than 2.5 years to obtain a complete GM product approval. Never again should we witness cases where the average approval time in Europe is 6.5 years as was the case for 17 of the products approved last year. In order to avoid such cases it will be important to address the increasing timelines for risk assessment at the European Food Safety Authority level. We are encouraged to see the plans by EFSA to re-establish dialogue through new transparency and engagement projects for 2016. These projects need to resolve issues such as the backlog of products pending at the EFSA levelcurrently 40 in the GMO areaas well as scientifically unsubstantiated requests to further strengthen risk assessment and the reduced scientific dialogue between EFSA experts and applicants highlighted in a 2014 letter addressed to EFSA by 11 industry federations across different sectors. A CHANCE TO GET IT RIGHT IN 2016 ITS CRUCIAL THE APPROVAL PROCESS FOLLOWS LEGISLATIVE TIMELINES AND RELATED ISSUESSUCH AS ADVENTITIOUS PRESENCEARE RESOLVED. BY BEAT SPTH RESOLUTION NEEDED In addition to normalising the approval system at the Commission and EFSA levels it is important that related issues which have remained unresolved for years and sometimes decades receive the attention and the resolution they deserve. Indeed since 2006 Member States have been requesting the Commission come forth with a proposal to address the adventitious presence of GMOs in seeds to redress the fact that there is no internal market for seeds today. Legal thresholds for seeds exist for other admixtures and impurities including some with hazardous properties but no threshold is accepted for the adventitious presence of safe GMOs approved elsewhere in the world. More legal certainty is also necessary for commodity imports where a so-called technical solution for food is urgently sought. The above needs and requests are fully supported by the entire food and feed chain which has been united in asking for a functioning evidence-based EU policy on GMOs. The most obvious and easy generator of innovation jobs and growth is to approve safe new products within legally prescribed and predictable timelines ensuring consumer safety while giving industry the consistency it requires to operate. GMOS Beat Spth is director of Agricultural Biotechnology at EuropaBio the European Association of Bioindustries Year the Opinion was Adopted Increase Your Success in developing superior hybrids and varieties with the global software solution for plant breeding and agronomy. Providing software solutions for plant breeders since 1990 Is your data in a secure database or across spreadsheets AGROBASE Generation II is a comprehensive flexible powerful relational database system developed for the management and analysis of plant breeding data. Accompanied by AGROBASE Tablet it is more mobile versatile and powerful. Find out why plant breeders at seed companies universities and government research organizations in over 40 countries across the world trust our software. Our unique Learning Centre now with over 120 tutorials assures the best return on investment. Feel free to view the Discovery Tutorials for an immediate overview. With three PhDs as part of our growing software development and support team as well as alliances with companies in China Europe and South Africa we are strongly positioned to help our clients worldwide. Agronomix Software Inc. Winnipeg Manitoba Canada Phone 1-204-487-4245 Email infoagronomix.com Registered trademarks cited are the property of their trademark owners. Learn more from our Discovery Tutorials and 3-minute movie at www.agronomix.commovie Used worldwide when success counts. Is Your Working For You Plant Breeding Software Are you going to the ISF World Seed Congress in Uruguay Visit us at our exhibit booth May 15-18 2016 for more information and a demonstration of AGROBASE Generation II and AGROBASE Tablet. Find out more www.agronomix.com 10 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM he Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD Seed Certification Schemes is a global framework for the varietal certification of internationally-traded seed. The overarching objective of the schemes is to increase market access and facilitate trade by simplifying certification procedures reducing tech- nical barriers to trade and ensuring traceability of the seed. In addition the schemes contribute to the harmonisation of international standards through the consistent enforcement of quality standards and inspection procedures. Established in 1958 the schemes have grown steadily over the years with 59 countries now actively participating and a further 10 observer countries likely to join in the near future. The schemes are the most widely used global certification system with participating coun- tries from all regions of the world and covering a broad range of crops from the different climatic zones. When a country joins it adopts the certification framework and this contributes to enhancing the growth of their seed sector and integration into global markets. Today over 90 percent of all field crop seed traded is covered by the OECD Seed Certification Schemes. For over 50 years the schemes have provided farmers access to high-quality seed from all over the world and have made a major contri- bution to raising crop productivity increasing farm incomes and contrib- uting to global food security. The availability and access to a consistent supply of high-quality seed is critical for a dynamic competitive and productive agriculture sector. With an ever-growing world population increased productivity is critical. Thus farmers access to new and high- er-yielding varieties is critical to meeting this challenge. The OECD schemes have made a substantial contribution to growth in the global seed trade especially with respect to field crops. Over the last three decades the global seed market has grown at a rapid pace driven by demand for higher-yielding varieties of seedhybrid seed in particular. Currently the value of the global seed market is estimated at about US45 billion with Europe North America and Asia accounting for over three-quarters of the total. The United States China France and Brazil are the largest seed markets in terms of value. However the composition of the industry varies by region with trade in vegetable seed by far the most important in Asia while field crops are significantly more important in other parts of the world. Exports and imports of seed have also grown rapidly in recent years and the international seed trade is currently valued at about US9 billion annually. The largest exporting countries are The Netherlands United States France and Germany. TECHNICAL CERTIFICATION STANDARDS OECD varietal certification standards are developed by an expert committee consisting of the National Designated Authorities NDA researchers industry and farmer representatives as well as represent- atives of other international organizations. The certification standards are based on two key criteria varietal identity and varietal purity. The committee meets annually to discuss and approve new standards or mod- ifications of the existing standards. All changes to the standards must be agreed on by consensus of the 59 member countries. In essence the schemes set out the rules and pro- cedures for checking varietal identity and varietal purity and these pro- cedures are harmonised amongst participating countries. Furthermore the schemes authorise the use of labels and certificates for seed pro- duced and processed for international trade according to the principles established for each of the seven schemes. The rules are regularly updated to reflect the needs of stakeholders and in particular the NDAs. Changes in agriculture trade and envi- ronmental policies as well as changes in biotechnologies often result in the need to further refine the rules. The frequent meetings between NDAs of participating countries and stakeholders allow for an exchange of information discussion of concerns and proposals for modification YOUR PASSPORT TO THE WORLD the OECD Seed Schemes The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development offers an inside look at how seed schemes are helping facilitate import and export of seed in order to help the industry grow. By Michael Ryan OECD To view the countries participating in the OECD Seed Schemes visit tinyurl.comnfs65m2 EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 11 of the rules to ensure an effective and efficiently operating system. The NDAs in participating countries are responsible for the implementation of the schemes and also for ensuring compliance with the rules and regulations as well as guidelines for control plot tests and field inspection of seed crops. Seed production is one of the most regulated sectors in most countries. Many countries have adopted strict laws and regulations that govern plant breeding production distribution and marketing of seed at the national and international level. In this context it is critical that national legislation is fully in line with international requirements. Stakeholders along the value chain work together to ensure that quality standards are maintained enhanced and consistently applied over time. The OECD Seed Certification Schemes consist of seven schemes with the admission to each scheme independent but subject to meeting the specific technical requirements. The schemes are 1. Grass and legume seed 2. Cereal seed 3. Crucifer and other oil or fiber species seed 4. Maize and sorghum seed 5. Sugar beet and fodder beet seed 6. Seed of subterranean clover and similar species and 7. Vegetable seed. The Maize and Sorghum Seed Scheme is the largest of the seven and accounts for over 50 per cent of all varieties listed in the OECD varietal List. The rapid growth in hybrids has been the main driving force behind this increase. SCHEMES AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL Seed schemes are administered by the NDA which is primarily respon- sible for ensuring that the rules are correctly and properly implemented. The NDA is normally appointed by the member countrys Ministry of Agriculture and can be part of the ministry or an agency authorised by the ministry. For seed to be traded with an OECD label the variety must be registered on the official OECD Varietal List. In order for this to occur a number of technical criteria must be first satisfied. Firstly only those varieties that are officially recognised as satisfying a test for distinct- ness uniformity and stability DUS and have an acceptable agronomic value in a participating country can be considered. Secondly all the certified seed produced must be related directly through one or more generations to authentic basic seed of the variety. Thirdly post-con- trol tests are conducted in order to assess if the implementation of the schemes are operating satisfactorily. Finally the variety must be listed on the official national certification catalogue of the country. The schemes facilitate imports and exports of seed by the removal of technical barriers using labels recognised globally which in effect act as a passport for the seed traded. The rules also set the technical speci- fications for seed multiplication outside the country and this is becoming more important in the northern hemisphere to ensure adequate supplies of high-quality seed of the variety during the sowing season. While the OECD schemes set the quality standards for seed that is traded internationally more and more countries are now adopting these standards for their domestic seed production and domestic markets. The schemes are built on the participation of all stakeholders along the supply chain including regulators plant breeders seed producers traders and farmers in participating countries. Frequent meetings allow for a multi-stakeholder dialogue to exchange information and to find solutions to contentious issues. An effective and efficient national and international regulatory system is critical to ensuring that farmers have access to the best varieties of seed that are available globally. A further feature of the implementation relates to the close and constructive interaction between public and private stakeholders which has facilitated the issuing of official certificates and labels and resulted in the fast growth in trade of certified seed between countries. FAST FACTS THE VALUE OF THE GLOBAL SEED MARKET IS ESTIMATED AT ABOUT US45 BILLION INTERNATIONAL SEED TRADE IS VALUED AT ABOUT US9 BILLION ANNUALLY THE OECD SEED CERTIFICATION SCHEMES ARE USED BY 59 MEMBER COUNTRIESOnly varieties that are officially distinct uniform and stable and with an acceptable agronomic value can be registered. PhotocourtesyOECD 12 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM EMERGING CHALLENGES AND ISSUES The harmonisation of certification procedures at the international level brings many benefits and has made a significant contribution to the growth of the global seed market. Nevertheless there are numerous challenges and issues that the sector needs to address. One of the com- plex challenges facing seed certification today is the issue of climate change and the likely impacts this will have on plant breeding seed production and the direction of trade. With climate change the tra- ditional seed producing countries and regions of the world are likely to shift resulting in a significant change in the direction of trade for certified seed. Another challenge is the rapid advancement of biotechnology and the implications this will have for markets certification standards and testing procedures. In particular there will be an increasing focus on traits that deal with abiotic stresses. With the rapid advances in biotechnology the average lifespan of a variety is expected to be shorter with significant consequences for research and development seed varietal certification and markets. This area requires further in-depth analyses particularly when it comes to the effectiveness of the existing technical requirements for varietal certification as well as the associated costs in this fast-moving environment. A further challenge to take into account relates to changes in con- sumer preferences and the impact this will have on market demand and the attributes of crops and new varieties of seed. For example there is growing interest in specific quality attributes in food crops which in turn is expected to increase the demand for new varieties with characteristics demanded by consumers. Another example is the certification of varieties for specific uses such as for biofuel production. The ongoing structural changes at the farm level also pose a chal- lenge with the steadily increasing size of farms which will have important implications for the input supply sectors especially seed. In effect more and more farmers are demanding a complete and fully integrated approach to dealing with the complex regulatory requirements for seed quality phytosanitary standards and environmental standards in order to lower costs and increase efficiency. The global nature of seed companies is also an issue with fewer but larger companies emerging to serve the growing global demand for cer- tified seed. For some crop species this process is already well advanced. This may have further implications for international certification and the availability of high-quality seed for farmers. A long-standing issue in the seed sector is the lack of an international varietal certification system for vegetable seed. This issue is very complex and potentially costly due to the wide diversity of species included in this group. Trade in vegetable seed is expanding especially in Asia and the value of the trade is growing rapidly. However while there is interest in developing a credible effective and cost efficient international varietal certification system to handle this category of seed this does not exist at the moment. With the ever-increasing administrative and regulatory demands associated with meeting the growing list of quality standards greater attention needs to be taken to ensure that the benefits of high standards do not become a burden and limit farmers access to the highest quality seed varieties currently available in the world. The OECD Seed Schemes Ad-Hoc Technical Working Group meet- ings will be held Jan. 26-29 2016 in Cape Town South Africa. The annual meeting will take place on June 9-10 2016 in Paris France. For more information on the OECD Seed Schemes visit www.oecd.orgtadcodeseeds.htm Editors Note Michael Ryan is currently Senior Policy Advisor at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD. His advice extends to the OECDs Codes and Schemes which cover the development and implementation of international standards for tractor codes seed certification forest FRM certification as well as quality standards for fruits and vegetables. Ryan holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics International Trade and Finance from the University of Alberta Edmonton Canada and an M. Agr. Sc. from University College Dublin UCD Ireland. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the OECD. Frequent meetings allow for a multi-stakeholder dialogue to exchange information and to nd solutions to contentious issues. An eective and efficient national and international regulatory system is critical to ensure that farmers have access to the best varieties of seed that are available globally. Trials for assessment of varietal identity and varietal purity. PhotocourtesyOECD EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 13 CIMBRIA WORLD WIDE GRAIN PROCESSING Cimbria world leader in grain processing technology Cimbria delivers efficient and controlled technology processes equipment and plants for handling and storing crops while focusing on increasing quality and energy efficiency and improving cost effectiveness. We design develop manufacture and install custom- built solutions whether these are single machines complete processing lines or large turnkey projects with highly advanced automation and management information systems. We master all disciplines and expertise within research and development crop knowledge engineering and manufacturing as well as in professional project management consulting service and construction. Cimbrias total project competence provides our customers with a high level of safety comfort and attentiveness to their project ensuring qualified performance in every aspect and complete integration and coordination of functions and components. We are a one-stop company and our client has only one contact who is responsible for the entire EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 13 CIMBRIA.COM CIMBRIA HEID GMBH Heid-Werkstrasse 4 A-2000 Stockerau AUSTRIA Phone 43 22 66 699 E-mail heidcimbria.com Web www.cimbria.com CONVEYING DRYING SEED PROCESSING ELECTRONIC SORTING STORAGE TURNKEY SERVICE 14 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM Always Look on the Bright Side The sunflower is recognised worldwide for its beauty however it is also an important source of food. Sunflower oil is a valued healthy vegetable oil and sunflower seeds are enjoyed as a nutritious ingredient in many foods as well as a tasty snack. As sunflower is an important agricultural crop choice for many producers around the globe European Seed is taking a closer look at breeding new sunflower varieties with Syngentas Branislav Dozet Limagrains Richard Legrand Strube Researchs Constantin Jansen and May Seeds Hamdi iftiler. BREEDING TARGETS European Seed As in many other crops the main breeding targets for sunflower in Europe are still yield and disease resistance however there now appears to be a more diverse picture than in the past. Branislav Dozet Although yield remains the main target segmentation of the sunflower market in the past few years has changed breeding targets. Introduction of high oleic and herbicide tolerant traits make breeding much more complex than before. Today we have five main targets yield and yield stability disease resistance oil quality drought and heat stress and herbicide tolerance. Overall across all segments grain and oil yield remain the priority tar- gets. High-yielding products still drive any new technology introduced in sunflower breeding. Constantin Jansen The first priority of Strube is seed yield but for that you need to have a good trait package against some diseasessuch as broomrape downy mildew Phomopsis Sclerotiniaand herbicide tolerant traits in addition to better oil content and high oleic varieties. Hamdi iftiler Harvestable yield is always the No. 1 target for a breed- ing program. However recent changes by the oilseed industry have led us to pursue the goal of high oil yield per hectare. After yield disease and pest resistance and herbicide tolerance are always high on our research priorities. In Turkey the parasitic plant Orobanche is a key pest. We have an aggressive breeding program for resistance to broomrape which is also a very big problem for the worlds most important sunflower-grow- ing countries such as Russia Ukraine Romania Bulgaria and Spain. Sunflower breeding experts share what is important in creating new varieties for the marketplace. By Marcel Bruins Hamdi iftiler is May Seed Turkeys vice-president Branislav Dozet is Syngentas head of Sunflower Breeding Constantin Jansen is Strube Researchs head of Product Line Sunflower Richard Legrand is Limagrains European Oilseeds Crops Markets manager EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 15 May Seed uses both conventional pathology-assisted breeding and mark- er-assisted breeding to stay ahead of the ever-changing races of the broomrape parasite. We combine conventional herbicide tolerance technologies with genetic broomrape resistance and downy mildew tolerance which creates excellent safety for farmers who grow sunflowers in the above geographies to fully secure their sunflower crop against the broomrape parasite weeds and early-season downy mildew risk. We also established a special SmartOR platform for such combinations. Richard Legrand Nowadays it is not enough for seed companies to focus only on breeding for yield. Due to changes in the climatic conditions there is a shift of risk. We can list the increased aggressiveness of broom- rape territories exposed to drought or the gain of importance of black rust and Verticillium. Breeding companies should be looking proactively for innovative solutions and anticipate the future risk. For Limagrains breeding program yield oil content and fatty acids profile such as high oleic or linoleic are crucially important. Resistance to mildew and other diseasessuch as Phomopsis Sclerotinia Verticillium and Phoma but also to Orobancheand herbicides are key to have. Our main target is to propose genetic solutions to farmers that improve the profitability of the crops on their farms. That could be through high-yielding high oleic hybrids grown under contract which give rise to a premium in most of the cases. It could be through Orobanche resistant varieties which control the parasite in the field. However it could also be through excellent disease profile varieties. YIELD INCREASES ES With yield arguably being the most important feature for farmers yield increase becomes one of the main breeding targets for plant breed- ers. Comparison with other crops shows yield increase of sunflower over the period 2000 to 2013 has been relatively high and in fact better than other oil crops. BD Indeed yield gain is very important but its not the only factor keep- ing the crop competitive. Following our trial results yield gain is around 1.2 per cent per year. But we must look where the main production of sunflower is located. In Russia and Ukraine sunflower is still considered an extensive crop with low inputs but tolerant to heat and drought. It means yield gain achieved by breeding efforts is not really reflected at the farm level. We usually call it yield gap at farm level or farm gate. However sunflower still remains the main cash crop in those areas. We expect introduction of new technology such as Clearfield will significantly help a farmer improve control of weeds broomrape and decrease the farm yield gap. To help farmers increase their yields at the farm level we allocate our breeding efforts to introducing new traits in our breeding materials. Even though we primarily breed for yield we should never forget that sunflower is an oil crop and oil content in seed is also very important. What the oil industry prefers is high-yielding and high-oil hybrids with stability over the years in different geographical regions. Believe me it looks like an easy task but it is not easy to achieve. RL Sunflower is often cultivated in a more difficult environment than other oil crops. Due to this specificity farmers achieve the full potential of the genetics less frequently. It is the reason why flexibility of genetics is so key for this crop. REGIONAL DIFFERENCES ES With respect to yield increase are there differences among regions CJ Certain areas have a bigger yield increase than others such as Eastern Europe. In these areas hybrids are compared with open-polli- nated varieties of the recent past and this offers yield increases up to 20 per cent. In Western Europe the yield increase over the last 20 years has been relatively flat because breeding programs have been more focused on diseases herbicide tolerance and oil content gains. Certainly there are regional differences where yield increase is larger than in other areas this is not the case everywhere. HC In Turkey yields have not changed much over the past few years due to the heavy focus on defensive breeding to defeat the ever-changing races of diseases and pests. In addition sunflowers in Turkey are largely grown in a dry climate and rely on a steadily depleting water supply during the growing season. Thus disease and water supply generally limit the yield of sunflowers. ES Does each region require its own sunflower varieties CJ There are big differences between countries and also within a coun- try mainly related to maturities diseases abiotic adaptations et cetera. RL Sunflower shows lots of plasticity. Breeders are establishing idiotypes for larger geographical units which are homogenous for specific criteria. HC In Eastern Europe with a more continental climate and more humid summers disease resistance is very important. In dryer areas such as Turkey Orobanche and drought tolerance are the more-needed traits. BD It is not possible to develop hybrids for every village of course. Before you start your breeding program you need to target the adaptation area. Wider adaptations of the hybrids are very important but unfortunately you cannot develop one product that fits in every environment. Having good knowledge about biotic and abiotic factors affecting hybrids in par- ticular regions are preconditions to predict adaptation of the products. I can give you example. Products developed for Spain can be well adapted for Turkey or Eastern Russia. But it is never a copy paste option. You always have specificity of each region. At the end hybrid adaptation trials across regions will give you the right answers. PESTS AND DISEASES ES Sunflower is considered a paradise crop for phytopathologists. What are the most important pests and diseases affecting sunflower and what is considered top priority for breeders CJ The most important diseases affecting sunflower are broomrape and downy mildew. There are not many new diseases developing in sunflower however breeders focus on the development of resistances against new races or pathotypes of existing diseases. BD Breeding is usually a big battle between pathogen race development and new gene discovery and the subsequent introduction into hybrids to control particular races. Sometimes we rely on chemical solutions but in general the target is genetic control of the disease. Race changes can be so fast that we cant discover and integrate a new genetic resistance or tolerance accordingly. Then crop protection products may be a key solution. One example is broomrape where we see such intensive race changes in different geographical regions and thats exactly where our companys technology holds a key solution to control broomrape. Its a combination of genetics and herbicides. HC While no new diseases have been discovered over the past few years current diseases continually change and we need new resistance Sunflower nursery. 16 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM genes. The most important diseases to us are downy mildew Phomopsis Alternaria and the parasitic plant Orobanche. RL The seed industry is in agreement in Europe the most important is to win the race against broomrape. Limagrain launched its absolutely original technology called SUNEO. Thanks to this innovation the very first hybrids including strongest broomrape resistance together with herbicide tolerance are reaching European farmers. This new solution is bringing durability in the resistance. ES What role does geography play in disease BD In Europe we have many diseases but few of them are significant. The main ones are stem canker downy mildew white mould charcoal rot Verticillium wilt and finally broomrape. Meanwhile in India for example you do not have any of those but you have viruses powdery mildew and Alternaria leaf blight. If you look toward South Africa you have issues with white rust. In the United States among others black rust can also be very important. If you want to be a global leader in breeding you must consider all of them and breed for tolerance or resistance. Some genetics work differently on the same disease in different geographic regions making breeding even more complex. Some European hybrids work well in India but without resistance to viruses and powdery mildew and tolerance to Alternaria leaf blight it is useless to have them there. RL Sunflower finds its origins in the American continent. The biggest challenge for breeding is to find newer and newer sources of resistance or tolerance while in the region of origin the species wasnt exposed to these pests and diseases. Therefor it is not evident to find resistance or tolerance mechanisms e.g. for broomrape. PLANT OIL MARKETS ES Of all crops palm oil is dominant in the oil market today because of its high productivity per hectare. There is no field crop that can com- pete with palm productivity. However as several large markets such as the United States are moving away from palm oil this opens up opportunities for other oil crops. In addition the production increase of oil crops has been largest in the United States Brazil and Argentina mainly due to soybean. Do you foresee plant oil markets changing in the near future CJ Looking at field crops on a global level soybean is still the most important crop however due to the ban on GM soybean cultivation in the EU it is sunflower and oilseed rape that are increasing in numbers in Europe. Sunflower is currently the main oil crop in both western and Eastern Europe. In Russia and Ukraine together there are already around 12 million hectares which is 60 per cent of the total world acre- age with second position for oilseed rape. RL The production areas of oil crops are quite stable in Europe with a small expected decrease for winter oilseed rape and a small expected increase for sunflower. This is in connection with the positive trend of high oleic sunflower oil which is in increasing demand by the fried foods industry. It should be noted that todays oil market is huge and seg- mented. The oil sector remains very demanding. We should not forget the socio-political environment also plays a big role and seed companies has no means of influencing that. For example Latin America is produc- ing for export and with the new president in Argentina we can expect changing the trend of the sunflower surface and after so many years of decreasing see some increase. BD Every oil crop has its own place in the market today including sunflower of course. I see many opportunities for sunflower especially in the development of the high oleic sunflower oil segment. In addition we should not forget that sunflower meal is also a very important part of the sunflower crushing industry. We also see more and more sunflower lecithin used for chocolate. Consumption of oil is very locally oriented depending on where a particular crop dominates for example palm oil in Asia soybean oil in the United States and Latin America canola oil in Canada Germany and Poland and sunflower oil in eastern and central Europe. This relates to the traditional usage of a particular oil. Many consumers in Russia for example love to consume cold pressed sunflower oil with the strong aroma of the sunflower kernel. Meanwhile in other parts of the world such oil will not find a place in the market. Also it is a tendency of the oil industry to produce oil mostly for its original usage for example deep frying oil salad oil et cetera. ES Is it challenging for sunflower to compete with other oil crops espe- cially soybean in Latin America BD One of the main reasons why soybeans increased so much in that part of the world was the introduction of GM varieties which gave a clear advantage to soybean over sunflower. It is different in Europe. Being a relatively small crop compared to corn or wheat for example development of herbicides for sunflower was below the needs of the crop. Hence sunflower started to lose competitiveness in the market but it remains a major player in dry areas. After development of herbicide tolerant technology sunflower again became competitive to other crops. Technology such as Clearfield allowed farmers to have a good post-emergent herbicide with double effect control of major weeds and broomrape control which is problem No. 1 in many European countries such as Spain Turkey Romania Russia Ukraine and Bulgaria. It really brings back sunflowers competitiveness to other spring crops. AN IMPORTANT DISCOVERY ES It has been 40 years since the discovery of the high oleic trait. Whats the importance of that finding BD Discovery of the high oleic trait placed sunflower oil in the category of healthy oil differentiating this crop from other oil crops. There is not one field crop today that has a similar content of oleic acid to match high oleic sunflower which usually ranges from 84 to 90 per cent. Practically all of the United States market is the mid-oleic and high oleic market while more than 60 per cent of the French sunflow- er-growing area is planted with high oleic sunflower. Demand for high oleic sunflower increases year by year especially for export-oriented countries like Ukraine. HC The cooking and health advantages of sunflower oil certainly give rise to opportunities for the crop to increase in status and surface in eastern Europe Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries where water supply is limited. Limagrain Suneo variety. PhotocourtesyLimagrain EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 17 FROM OPEN-POLLINATED TO HYBRIDS ES Many crops have been turned from self-pollinated or open-polli- nated into hybrid crops and sunflower is no exception. HC Sunflower is a hybrid crop in its current form. Sunflower breeders utilise a cytoplasmic male sterility system to produce hybrids similar to corn sorghum cotton and onion crops. CJ Only in Russia and Ukrainetaking into account the large quantities thereare open-pollinated varieties for sunflower still very important however step by step all acreage is moving to hybrids. As most breeders know it is always easier to bring open-pollinated crops than self-pollinated crops to a hybrid production system. But even in self-pollinated crops such as barley it is possible. BD Sunflower even as an open-pollinated crop is different than corn for example. Corn is a monoecious plant where the sexes are partitioned into separate organspistillate ear the female flower and staminate tassel the male flower. In a practical sense it means you can physically remove the tassel and easily create a hybrid but you can also do the same based on male sterility. Sunflower is quite different. Both female and male parts are located in the same flower. Physical elimination is impossible except on a breeding scale. We waited a long time until one French scien- tistLeclercq in 1969discovered a proper male sterility system for sunflower which fits production scale. There are many benefits of hybrid breeding compared to variety breeding and probably the most important one is the heterosis effect. EXCITING TIMES ES Why is it breeders find it exciting to work with sunflower BD A really great era for sunflower breeding started in the mid-80s when it became a hybrid crop. Sunflowers genetic diversity is its big advantage. In the United States it was known as a crop plant for many years by the native Indian tribes there. The sunflower genus contains 49 different species. This gives breeders a great opportunity to utilise such divergence in different breeding programs especially for disease tolerance traits. There are plenty of examples in breeding where discovery of the genes in wild relatives solved major issues with certain diseases. These wild relatives are common today almost everywhere in the United States and adapted for different environments. It still remains a fantastic pool for different breeding targets for example drought tolerance photosynthesis efficiency insect tolerance fatty acid composition et cetera. We also have one well-known sunflower species in Europe with the domestic name Jerusalem artichoke often called topinambur. Many people use it in everyday life not knowing it is also part of the sunflower family. But scientific work is not the only great aspect of sunflowers lets not forget this crop has inspired many artists the best known being Van Gogh. SUNFLOWER IN THE UKRAINE ES We feature the Ukrainian seed sector in this issue. Sunflower oil production is greater than its consumption in Ukraine and is the only net exporter of sunflower oil. What else makes sunflower a good crop for that country CJ Its a traditional crop there very well adapted and has high yields due to amazing soil quality and good weather conditions during the sunflower vegetative period. A large part of Ukraine has a typical continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. BD In Ukraine its a low input and profitable crop usually called a cash crop due to yield stability especially in dryer areas. The country has a long tradition of growing sunflower and is part of Ukraines culture and folklore. But we must also be careful to bear in mind that oversizing a crop can also cause issues with technology. Crop rotations still need to be followed and mono-cropping is not recommended for sunflower. RL Ukraine is the second country in Europe for sunflower production after Russia with an excellent average yield. The country has a strategic position to export sunflower commodities thanks to its Black Sea facilities either to western or eastern countries with good competitiveness. INVESTMENT NEEDED ES Creating a new hybrid sunflower variety is a long process and from discovery to commercial stage it usually takes several years. The invest- ment needed to create a new sunflower variety varies per company. Whats involved in creating a new sunflower variety BD The process of creating a variety on average takes around 10 years. Marker-assisted selection can speed up the process but you still need to test products and go through the registration process. Today breeding is really all about team work. To develop a new variety you need to have genetic variability available traits and motivated experienced and well-ed- ucated breeding teams supported by many other functions such as pro- duction portfolio and marketing and sales. You must develop technology that can significantly increase breeding efficiency. Every function in this process has more or less equal impor- tance. Development of one product is costly and needs to be well planned in order to bring in a return on investment and create profit for the company. HC We are fortunate in Turkey that we can run two full nurseries a year in the field and three seasons in the greenhouses. We believe from idea con- ception to bringing a product to market including the registration process takes us at least eight years and over 500000 to develop one hybrid. This number does not include the heavy investment we have made in state-of- the-art greenhouses pathology and marker labs. CJ It takes about 1000000 per year over 10 years to yield a minimum number of new hybrids to maintain an interesting portfolio. RL Part of our continuous improvement efforts is to reduce the time to reach the market with an innovative product. Each step of the process can be challenging. It depends how efficient we can incorporate genome wise selection new phenotyping and high throughput genotyping technics. SUNFLOWER BREEDING INNOVATIONS ES Sunflower may be a great crop to work with but it still appears to be behind other crops such as corn wheat soybean rice and cotton in terms of importance and investment. CJ Companies look at the development of new technologies in other crops and based on their own possibilities and priorities try to adapt and imple- ment it in sunflower breeding. RL While zooming in on patentable innovation exclusively in the sunflower domain we see very little work. One of the unique topics is broomrape. BD Often sunflower becomes a pilot crop for some projects. If the task is complicated and needs more resources then international research consortiums are needed to support such projects. I can point to two such exampleshigh-quality genomic sequencing and the development of the efficient dihaploid system in sunflower. Such innovations will help breed- ing move forward in the predictive breeding era. It is not there today but I think it is not far away. Only the flower head of a young sunflower tracks the arc of the sun as it moves across the sky while the flower head of a mature sunflower typically faces east. PhotocourtesySyngenta 18 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM strinia nubilalis and Sesamia non- agrioides are two species of insects known as maize borers. These insects belong to the Lepidoptera order and are typ- ically present in the Mediterranean region and cause damage to leaves stems and cobs. Last season the insects affected up to 50 per cent of maize production in some regions. High temperatures and the use of long-cycle varieties provide unique conditions for these insects to reproduce reaching up to two to three generations per year. The GM maize varieties used in the European Union have the CryAB gene from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis Bt incorpo- rated in their DNA which enables the varieties to release an insect repelling protein. This natu- ral insecticide is used in sustainable production systems such as organic farming and not only does it prevent the use of synthetic insecticides it protects crops even when it is impossible to spread the products due to plant height. PRODUCTION DATA GM maize varieties have been grown in Portugal since 2005 under strict measures efficiently controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture on an annual basis. Although there is a decrease in Portugals maize production area the area of GM maize is increasing. In the 2014 season more than six per cent of Portugals maize production was GM representing 8542 hectares. Most GM pro- duction is concentrated in the Ribatejo and the Alentejo regions. GM MAIZE VARIETIES HAVE BEEN GROWN IN PORTUGAL SINCE 2005 AND THE COUNTRYS PRODUCTION AREA IS ON THE RISE. ALTHOUGH STRICTLY MONITORED AND OF CLEAR BENEFIT AS A PEST RESISTANCE TOOL FOR PORTUGUESE FARMERS GM MAIZE PRODUCTION MAY BE THREATENED. BY ANSEME PHOTOSCOURTESYOFVASCOSALGUEIROFROMPIONEERPORTUGAL COEXISTENCE MEASURES Farmers who grow GM maize in Portugal have to fulfill strict coexistence measures which in our opinion offer all Portuguese farmers a true free- dom of choice of the production systems they want to adopt. These measures are established under the Portuguese legislation Decree-Law No. 1602005 from 21 September 2005. The isolation measures are an important tool to prevent cross pollinations and can be achieved by cultivation at minimum distances from neighbouring fields or by differentiated times in drilling. Farmers cultivating GM maize must keep a distance of 200 metres or 24 conventional maize border rows between fields if the neigh- bouring fields are conventional or 300 meters or 28 conventional maize border rows plus an GM MAIZE PRODUCTION PORTUGALS EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 19 Hectares 10000 9000 8000 7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 0 Hectares 20.000 40.000 60.000 80.000 100.00 120.000 140.000 160.000 180.000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 045 081 276 313 373 368 562 649 559 678 Area of GM maize production Area of conventional maize production isolation distance of 50 metres if the neigh- bouring fields are organic. As an alternative farmers cultivating GM maize can use differ- ent cycle varieties at least two FAO classes or drill the same FAO classes with a 20-day difference. Before production all farmers must be trained by qualified personnel concerning issues such as varietal properties and the legal provisions under which varieties have to be produced and the traceability measures to be fulfilled. Twenty days before drilling farmers must notify official services and inform their neighbours in written form. Farmers must also keep refuge areas for the insect to reproduce. Conventional maize must occupy 20 per cent of the area. The pur- pose of this measure is to prevent the rise of insect populations resistant to Bt varieties. Seed must be certified and packages must have a pamphlet with relevant informa- tion and responsibilities farmers must fulfil with respect to coexistence and traceability measures. Harvest must begin with GM varieties after which 2000 square metres of the con- ventional crop is harvested and marketed as GM in order to keep machinery free of GM grains. Every player in the chain must com- municate the final product was obtained with GM varieties as per European Regulation 18302003 which states This product con- tains genetically modified organisms or This product contains genetically modified name of organisms. As coexistence measures are not always easily fulfilled by small-scale farmers due to reduced field sizes there is a possibility for them to gather in production areas and only farmers located on the borders of these production areas have to comply with isola- tion measures. There has been a large increase in acre- age of these production areas Figure 4 which is a sign of the importance of GM varieties to small-scale farmers who dont have many options to fight maize borers. FIGURE 2. AREA OF GM MAIZE AS A PERCENTAGE OF THE TOTAL AREA OF MAIZE PRODUCTION IN PORTUGAL. FIGURE 1. PRODUCTION AREA OF GM MAIZE IN PORTUGAL. Source Information from the Portuguese official services of the Ministry of Agriculture FIGURE 3. EXAMPLE OF GM PRODUCTION AREA. Source Vasco Salgueiro from Pioneer Portugal 20 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM GM in production areas 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Area 1826.2 2521.7 2298.6 2252 3825 5821 4834 4097 Area representation 43.5 51.9 45.1 46.2 49.5 62.7 58.9 48.0 Number of farmers 110 119 105 71 89 138 106 106 Farmers representation 78.6 47.6 44.9 37.2 35.9 49.6 45.7 44.5 FIGURE 5. DEVELOPMENT OF GM PRODUCTION IN PRODUCTION AREAS. In the 2014 season almost 50 per cent of GM production occurred in production areas and more than 40 per cent of farmers using GM varieties were organized in these areas. INSPECTION AND MONITORING All these measures are duly monitored every year with an inspection rate of more than 30 per cent of farmers who produce GM varieties all new farmers are inspected. These inspections include monitoring of the presence of GM varieties in neighbouring fields to date it has been below 0.9 per cent the labelling threshold. In spite of these strict measures discus- sions are ongoing in the political arena. At the moment there are a few legislation proposals forbidding the production of GM varieties in Portugal the opt-out option to be discussed in Portuguese Parliament in January 2016. In spite of these strict measures dis- cussions are ongoing in the political arena. Recently a few legislation proposals forbidding the production of GM varieties in Portugal the opt-out option were discussed in Portuguese Parliament in January 2016. Fortunately these proposals were rejected however there will be more discussions in the near future. Although this issue might be distant and mistrustful for most civil society and politi- cians GM maize production has clear benefits for Portuguese farmers.Source Information from the Portuguese official services of the Ministry of Agriculture 1000 0 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 Hectares 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Source Information from the Portuguese official services of the Ministry of Agriculture FIGURE 4. DEVELOPMENT OF GM PRODUCTION AREAS. We share Johans ambition to surprise consumers time after time Johan Solleveld comes from a tomato-growing family and has been involved in variety development at Rijk Zwaan for over 30years. Thanks to his extensive experience and to the fact that he really speaks the growers language heknows exactly what to look out for when selecting new tomatoes. Over the years Johan has gained an ever-greater appreciation of the tomatos versatility and potential. He knows that nature can sometimes have surprises in store and how important it is to remain open to the resulting opportunities. In close collaboration both with colleagues and customers he strives to make a valuable contribution to creating tasty new products every day. It is Johans ambition to surprise consumers time after time. Rijk Zwaan a global specialist in vegetable breeding - shares this ambition. We are working together towards a healthy future. Learn more at rijkzwaan.com 442262RZW_adv_Johan_181x129.indd 1 10-09-15 0754 Seed Industry News Delivered Directly to Your InboxFeaturing industry news videos and articles that dive into important seed-industry issues. storyof theweekeuropeanseedby Subscribe at european-seed.comsubscribe Industry News Videos Important Issues 22 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM GM MAIZE PRODUCTION pains cultivation of genetically mod- ified maize for protection against corn borers started in 1998 with the registration of the maize variety Compa CB containing the event Bt 176 developed by Syngenta in the National Catalogue. The MON810 event developed by Monsanto was authorised in the EU in 1998 however culti- vation of maize varieties containing this mod- ification was initiated in Spain in 2003 when several varieties containing this event were registered. Since 2005 MON810 is the only insect-protected maize approved for cultiva- tion in the EU while more than 200 varieties have been registered by several companies providing an extensive portfolio of GM varie- ties to farmers. The area in Spain where GM maize is grown is fairly localised and strongly linked to corn borer-infested areas. The main GM maize cultivation area is located in the countrys northeast around the Ebro river valley with around 78956 hectares. The southwest region around the Guadiana and Guadalquivir river valleys is the second-larg- est area to be cultivated with GM maize where approximately 11323 ha and 10518 ha are grown respectively. For the past 18 years the percentage of acreage dedicated to GM maize varieties has increased from 4.8 per cent in 1998 to about 30 per cent in the last five-year period see Figure 2. Bt-maize acreage is estimated from mandatory sales reports by seed companies to Spanish authorities every season whereas the total maize acreage comes from other sta- tistical sources such as Common Agricultural Policy declarations. Farmers have adopted Bt-maize since 1998 due to pest pressure by the European corn borer Ostrinia nubilalis and by the stalk borers Sesamia spp.. The highest con- FIGURE 1. Main production areas of GM corn in Spain. centrations of Bt-maize plantings are found in regions which have traditionally experienced medium to high pest pressure such as Aragon and Catalua. ANOVES TECHNICAL USER GUIDE The plant breeding industry is committed to educating farmers and promoting good agri- cultural practices with Bt-maize. The Spanish industry represented by ANOVE Spanish Association of Plant Breeders has developed a technical user guide on good agricultural practices for growing GM maize in Spain. The Good Agricultural Practices and Technical User Guide is included in all seed bags mar- keted in Spain and for this reason is exten- sively distributed among growers. The seed industry has put particular emphasis on the development of communi- cation tools for implementing all the require- ments for growing GM varieties. As a result the information provided in ANOVEs user guide includes Bt-maize technical informa- tion insect resistance management practices refuge implementation and management traceability and labelling obligations and coexistence recommendations. INSECT RESISTANCE MANAGEMENT The EU cultivation of Bt-maize varieties is being accompanied by an insect resistance management plan to proactively avoid andor delay the potential development of corn borers resistant to the Bt-protein. The key elements of the EU IRM strategy associated with Bt-maize cultivation are refuge implementation and resistance monitoring in field populations of targeted pests. Refuge obli- gation means farmers growing more than five ha of Bt-maize must plant an area with maize that does not express the Bt-protein conven- tional and corresponds to at least 20 per cent of the surface planted with Bt-maize. Many initiatives to educate farmers on the importance of compliance with refuge planting have been made by the seed industry. Each purchaser of GM maize receives the ANOVE technical guide containing the latest information on growers IRM obligations. In addition to widespread dissemination of infor- mation pertaining to refuge requirements to technology users a grower education pro- gramme with sales and agronomic advisory Over the past five years Spains acreage dedicated to GM maize varieties has stabilised. Partnerships among the members of the Spanish Association of Plant Breeders have been key to the development of communication tools grower education programmes and commitment to good agricultural practices and insect resistance management for Bt maize cultivation. BY ALMUDENA DE LA CRUZ Source Spanish Ministry of Agriculture Food and Environment SPAINS EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 23 GRAIN MAIZE SURFACEBT VS CONVENTIONAL SPAIN 1998-2015 0 1000hectares 100 200 300 400 500 600 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Bt Grain Maize 22 25 26 12 23 32 58 53 54 75 79 80 77 97 116 137 132 108 Conventional Grain Maize 429 370 407 500 442 444 422 364 300 286 284 269 235 272 271 302 285 275 48 63 6 23 49 67 121 127 152 208 217 23 247 30 312 263 316 282 FIGURE 2. Spains GM Maize surface as a percentage of conventional maize surface. teams ensures farmers awareness of refuge compliance is reinforced. These activities include the following a presentation on IRM updated by the ANOVE Bt-maize group and provided to individual companies thus ensuring common messages across the market during farmers talks and commercial presenta- tions continuous communication about IRM implementation in all sales tools prepared by seed companies leaflets brochures cat- alogues etc. advertisement about refuge compli- ance articles and references to the Good Agricultural Practices and Technical User Guide published in key agricultural maga- zines postcards for farmers located in GM maize-growing areas reinforcing key mes- sages about refuge implementation posters reminding farmers about the obliga- tion to plant a refuge dispersed among seed distributors and points of sales communication plan for co-operatives small points of sales and farmers in which trained ANOVE inspectors complete visits at planting time in GM maize-growing areas to inform distribute material and ensure farmers are well advised on refuge imple- mentation when buying GM seeds. TRACEABILITY AND LABELLING In addition the technical user guides attached to seed bags contain the requirements of the Regulation EC No. 18302003 concerning the traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms. Operators must transmit in writing to the receiver of the product that it contains or consists of GMOs and it must be labelled as such. In order to facilitate this requirement the techni- cal user guide includes a form to fill out to be used by operator and buyer as notification of GMOs. This document must be held for five years COEXISTENCE Finally the technical user guide includes recom- mendations on coexistence by the Spanish seed industry based on comprehensive studies per- formed in real situations of coexistence in main production areas by the Institute for Research and Technology in Food and Agriculture of Catalonia Spain These recommendations include the following use of certified seed and label retention before sowing know your neighbouring farmers cultivation and sowing date clean drilling machinery carefully after sowing GM maize if it is to be used for con- ventional or organic crops at the end of the harvest of GM varie- ties harvest at least 2000 square metres of conventional maize labelling as GM maize separate GM grains from conventional or organic grains during transport drying storing or processing use suitable practices for weed control when conventional corn is grown in rota- tion. According to surveys conducted by ANOVE as well as commercial experience there is a de facto coexistence in the market without disputes between farmers or disproportionate costs or restrictions. Partnerships among ANOVE members on education programmes in addition to farmers commitment to good agricultural practices implementation have been key ele- ments to Spains successful GM maize produc- tion without restrictive and disproportionate regulations. As the new EU regulatory framework Directive 2009128EC requires the implemen- tation of integrated pest management princi- ples in maize production GM maize cultivation in Spain demonstrates sustainable maize pro- duction in areas affected by corn borers and has proved to be an excellent tool for farmers in those areas. Sourcewww.magrama.gob.eses Bt Grain Maize Conventional Grain Maize 24 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM t has been recited many times before our planet is faced with some of the most fearsome challenges it has ever seen. We need to produce more food and more energy for an ever-growing population and we need to do that on less land with less water less resources and in a more sustainable manner. And all of that in a changing climate. Over the past century plant breeding has been a major contributor improving plant varieties to cope with population growth. However due to urbanization agriculture has been pushed to ever more marginal lands and yield increases have been plateauing in sev- eral crops. So plant breeders will need to step up their efforts. Continuing on the way they have done so far wont suffice in the coming decades. We need another revolution. And this revolution may very well come in the form of new breeding techniques NBTs. This group of techniques has been devel- oped over the past 10 to 15 years both in the public as well as in the private sector. The beauty of these techniques is they are capa- ble of delivering a desired genetic traits in a much more precise way than other techniques could so far. Whereas in current plant breed- ing there are sometimes limitations in deliv- ering the right characteristics to the target varieties these techniques offer new possibil- ities to EU plant breeders. It is a known fact that conventional plant breeding takes time. Surveys among plant breeding companies show it can take on average from seven to 12 sometimes up to 20 years to generate a new plant variety with the desired characteristics depending on the crop. Use of NBTs significantly shortens this period. For example in certain species it can be very time consuming to introduce a new resistance gene from the same or related species due to the crops complex genetics. The result is not all crosses produce fertile offspring. In addition the growth habit of the crop itself can prevent a quick introduction of By Marcel Bruins the trait. For example trees take several years until the first flowers and fruits develop and it can take decades to create a new variety. In this article well provide a technical overview of the different methods developed so far. A future issue of European Seed will address the regulatory environment surrounding NBTs. SEQUENCE-SPECIFIC NUCLEASE TECHNOLOGY Sequence-specific nuclease SSN technology is often referred to as site-directed nuclease. It uses natural enzymes that generate a dou- ble-strand break in the DNA. These enzymes are linked to man-made structures designed to bind to a specific target DNA sequence. The complex causes a break at an exact pre-de- fined location in the DNA. The plants own repair mechanism repairs the break but often inaccurately. There are three applica- tion types of SSN SSN-1 SSN-2 and SSN-3. With the application type SSN-1 no donor-DNA is used to guide the repair. Non-homologous end-joining NHEJ takes place resulting in most instances in small deletions in the DNA however sometimes small additions can take place. These small alterations lead to loss of gene function a gene knock-out. The SSN-2 technique uses a donor DNA which is a copy of the target DNA region with a small modification. During repair the plant will use this template for the repair and the FIGURE 1. Outline of sequence-specific nuclease technologies SSN-1 SSN-2 and SSN-3. NEW BREEDING TECHNIQUES PROMISING TECHNIQUES TO ACCELERATE INNOVATION IN PLANT BREEDING. IllustrationcourtesyofWageningenUR EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 25 small modification will be introduced into the plants genome targeted mutation. The repair template of the SSN-3 applica- tion type contains a complete new gene. Using SSN-3 intragenes cisgenes see below or transgenes can be introduced gene addition. In any of the three ways described above with SSN a gene of interest can be mutated replaced or knocked out Figure 1. CRISPR- Cas9 zinc-finger nucleases ZFNs TALENs and meganucleases are all different variants of SSN. For decades plant breeders have been using classical mutagenesis methods such as chemicals or ionizing radiation. In a way sim- ilar results can be obtained with SSN-1 SSN-2 and classical mutagenesis methods with one big differenceclassical mutagenesis leads to thousands of random mutations whereas SSN-1 and SSN-2 lead to single specific muta- tions in a targeted gene. Another disadvantage of classical mutagenesis methods is this necessitates a selection for plants with the intended muta- tions but also plant breeders must carry out several generations of backcrossing to get rid of unwanted mutations. These two latter steps are much simpler and faster when using SSN-1 or SSN-2. OLIGONUCLEOTIDE- DIRECTED MUTAGENESIS The technique oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis ODM uses oligonucleotides small molecules into which in a similar manner to SSN-2 a small repair template is introduced into the plant cell which is identi- cal to the plants genetic materialexcept for the desired change. After the DNA repair process plants are selected where the modification has been copied into the DNA. The difference with SSN-2 is no genetic construct is copied into the DNA of the plant itself. The small repair molecule that is used remains briefly in the plant cell and is quickly degraded Figure 2. This method only works in plants that can be regenerated from protoplasts. It is important to mention that with SSN-1 SSN-2 and ODM additional genetic variation is created within an existing spe- cies without crossing any species barrier. It is this creation of additional genetic variation that is absolutely crucial and fundamental to plant breeding. RNA-DEPENDENT DNA METHYLATION RNA-dependent DNA methylation RdDM relies on the plants defence system RNA- induced silencing complex RISC which is activated by small double-stranded RNA molecules from viruses for example. The system forms a complex with the RNA of for- eign origin and methylates the matching DNA ultimately blocking the expression of the gene Figure 3. REVERSE BREEDING It is not possible to exactly reproduce a heterozygous plant via seeds. Only vegetative reproduction will allow for an FIGURE 2. Simplified illustration of ODM. The left DNA helix light bluered with oligonucleotide template tanred containing one intended mismatch dark blue. After the endogenous DNA repair mechanism has copied the change pink into the DNA the template is degraded. The strands return to their original form not shown and the DNA repair mechanism copies the intended change of one strand into the complementary strand successfully completing the process. FIGURE 3. Simplified graphical representation of RdDM. On the left side the plants natural defence system leading to methylation of a viral gene. On the right side recombinant-derived RNA molecules guide the RISC to its natural counterpart resulting in DNA methylation and a subsequent blocking of gene activity. The recombinant gene contains fragments of the natural gene to be targeted. IllustrationcourtesyofNBTPlatformIllustrationcourtesyofWageningenUR 26 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM FIGURE 4. Schematic overview of the final outcomes of different breeding approaches. During conventional breeding recombination of chromosome pairs results in the reshuffling of genetic material and the unique combination of genetic variation will be lost. In reverse breeding a selected heterozygous offspring plant is crossed with itself while chromosomal recombination is suppressed by a transgene resulting in lines with homozygous chromosome pairs. The haploidisation step producing plants in which only one chromosome of each chromosome pair is present and the subsequent doubling of the chromosomes producing doubled- haploid plants with homozygous chromosome pairs are not shown here. For hybrid variety production parental lines in which the genetic variation of the chromosome pairs complement each other are selected from the reverse breeding program. Crossing such lines will result in uniform offspring hybrid plants seeds which are genetically similar to the plants with which the reverse breeding was started. FIGURE 5. Simplified illustration of grafting. Here a fruit-bearing non- GM scion has been grafted onto a GM rootstock. exact copy. However seed companies are geared to reproduce and commercialise their elite plant varieties by means of seeds as vegetative reproduction is often too expensive technically cumbersome and commercialization is often logistically i mpossible. Reverse breed i ng uses a genetic modification step to suppress the recombination of chromosomes followed by specific tissue culture to create homozygous parent lines. These lines are then used to stably produce the heterozygous elite plants through seed Figure 4. GM ROOTSTOCK GRAFTING With this technique the top part of a plant called the scion is grafted onto a GM rootstock Figure 5. The resulting combined plant is usually regarded as a GM plant but the products such as the flowers or the fruits that are harvested on the non-GM scion do not carry the genetic modification and are considered GM-free. This is particularly useful in cases where the rootstock conveys beneficial characteristics to the combination such as more efficient nutrient uptake from the soil better rooting ability in heavy soils or resistance to soil-borne diseases e.g. nematodes. INDUCED EARLY FLOWERING With this approach recombinant genes are introduced into a plant that promote flower- ing in the first year. This is particularly help- ful in trees that have a long juvenile phase in which they dont flower. The early flowering enables much faster breeding and selection in these species. In the final breeding step the recombinant early flowering genes are crossed out resulting in varieties that are free of any transgenes. The plants produced in this way are indistinguishable from varie- ties obtained through conventional breeding but are now achieved decades earlier. CISGENESIS Using this method specific traits of interest are introduced into a plant using genetic modification but only using genes from the same species or from a species that can be crossed with it Figure 6. The introduced cisgene is an identical copy of a gene from the sexually compatible pool including promoter introns and terminator. The donor plant must be crossable with the recipient plant. This means that the same result could be achieved through conventional plant breeding but this would take a much longer period often up to four or five times longer. This technique is especially promising for the development of plant varieties of vegetatively propagated crops such as potato apple banana cassava and grape. INTRAGENESIS Plants created with this technique contain new genes that originate from the species itself or from a crossable species. Intragenesis allows in vitro recombination of genetic ele- ments isolated from different genes within the sexually compatible gene pool. With cisgene- sis genes are a new combination of genetic ele- ments that cannot be obtained with traditional breeding. For example one can replace the natural promotor by a promotor from another gene that comes from the same species. As with every technique there are limi- tations. One of the limitations shared by both cisgenesis and intragenesis is traits outside the sexually compatible gene pool cannot be introduced. Additionally the creation of intra- genic crops requires new expertise and more time compared with transgenic crops. The desired genes or fragments of genes may not be readily available but have to be isolated from the sexually compatible gene pool. Also the production of selection mark- er-free plants often requires the implemen- tation or development of new methods since such methods may not be readily available for the crop. This means considerable efforts have to be spent especially on crops with low IllustrationcourtesyofWageningenUR IllustrationcourtesyofNBTplatform EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 27 POTENTIAL APPLICATIONS OF NBTs Potatoes with reduced amylase content and with late blight resistance. Apples with scab resistance and with decreased allergenicity. Rice with bacterial leaf blight resistance. Oilseed rape with herbicide tolerance. Wheat with powdery mildew resistance. Maize with drought tolerance and herbicide tolerance. Soybean with improved oil quality. transformation efficiencies to produce high numbers of modified plants. The disadvantages described above for intragenesis and cisgenesis are greatly compensated by their potential to over- come some of the limitations of conven- tional plant breeding. Both cisgenesis and intragenesis confer a faster and more precise tool for the transfer of genetic con- structs between related species than clas- sical backcross breeding. At the same time the linkage drag often seen in conventional backcross programs is avoided. The intra-cisgenic techniques can also overcome limitations of classical breeding when it comes to improving traits with limited natural allelic variation. A higher expression level of a trait can be obtained through cisgenesis by insert- ing an additional gene copy of the trait or through intragenesis by introducing a hybrid gene containing an advantageous promoter and terminator isolated from the sexually compatible gene pool. Lower expression levels can be obtained through intragenesis by the introduction of differ- ent silencing constructs. VALUABLE NEW TOOLS New plant breeding techniques signifi- cantly reduce the time and effort needed to produce new plant varieties and allow more precision. It would seem that consid- ering the immense challenges ahead the NBTs provide valuable new tools to EU plant breeders that are much needed in light of both the EUs agricultural sector constraints and the global challenges concerning population increase climate change food security and the sustainable use of resources. FIGURE 6. Diagram comparing the genetic changes achieved through conventional plant breeding transgenesis and cisgenesis. Position paper of European Seed Association ESA on New Plant Breeding Techniques www.euroseeds.eunew-plant-breeding-techniques EU Commission page on New Plant Breeding Techniques ec.europa.eufoodplantgmolegislationplant_breedingindex_en.htm EFSA paper on cisgenesis intragenesis www.efsa.europa.euenefsajournalpub2561 EFSA paper on Zinc Finger Nuclease 3www.efsa.europa.euenefsajournalpub2943 JRC paper on New Plant Breeding Techniques ftp.jrc.esEURdocJRC63971.pdf New Breeding Techniques NBT Platform www.nbtplatform.org WUR brochure on Opportunities of New Plant Breeding Techniques edepot.wur.nl357723 ADVANTAGES OF NBTs Increased precision and efficiency of the plant breeding process. Arrive quicker at the desired plant characteristics. Faster ways to increase plants resistance to pests and diseases. This in turn leads to a reduction in the use of pesticides. Faster ways to increase plants tolerance to abiotic stresses such as drought leading to better use of water and other resources. With that new plant varieties provide for a greater harvest security and higher food security. Overall NBTs provide benefits to EU consumers and have a positive impact on the environment. Food is produced in a more sustainable manner. More high-quality plant varieties are available for EU farmers giving them the possibility to produce food and feed in a more efficient and sustainable way. It also provides farmers with the necessary means to generate some much-needed economic benefits. The techniques will become a major driver of Europes economy and ensure that EU plant breeders remain competitive on a global scale. SourceWikipedia PLANT BREEDING AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PLANT SCIENCES IN GENERAL and above all biology and plant breeding have evolved very rapidly over the past two decades mainly due to advances in the knowledge of genomes. Against this backdrop plant improvement is a particularly innovative sector something evidenced by high investment in research and development about 15 per cent of the sectors revenue and the advances in genetics being applied to agriculture all over the world. The level and sustainability of research funding which growers and society as a whole need in order to face the challenges of the future depend largely on the recognition of the intellectual property generated by such research. A clear and workable framework and its associated tools for the protection of intellectual property are essential. Our aim here is to present an analysis of this issue drawing on half a century of opera- tional experience. We will aim to set out the issues we all face as public and private actors involved in innovation as well as public authorities. We will limit our analysis to a European framework since a broader scope would require taking into account the variations in legislation around the world and also the differences in development in the plant improvement sector in different parts of the world. THE FIRST STEPS THE CREATION OF UPOV In the 1950s the plant breeding community including public research organisations such as the French National Institute of Agricultural Research INRA proposed the establishment of a sui generis pro- tection system which led to the signing in 1961 of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants and the establishment of the Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants UPOV. This need for a sui generis tool was a result of the very specific nature of innovations resulting from the practice of plant breedingplant varieties that were defined by the expression of the charac- teristics resulting from a given genotype or combination of genotypes. In other words plant varieties are protected as a whole as a result of the complex expression of the entirety of their genome. The Plant Variety Protection PVP certificate obtained as a result and governed by the UPOV convention safeguards the commercial exploitation of the variety for its breeder for a minimum of 20 or 25 years depending on the species. A fundamental element of the UPOV convention is the existence of an exception to the breeders rights called the breeder exemption whereby another breeder can use the protected variety in a breed- ing programme to create a new plant variety. This mechanism allows a virtuous circle of innovation in which the innovations of generation N are open to the entire community of breeders who through crossbreeding can realise further innovations in generation N1 which themselves are then available for generation N2. This mechanismthe virtuous circleworked extremely well for almost 50 years and proved satis- factory for everyone because the duration of the innovation cycle about 10 years was approximately the same as that of the commercial life of the innovation itself the variety. This meant that when the gen- eration N1 innovation the new variety appeared on the market that of the previous generation which had contributed to the N1 varietys creation was in general reaching the end of its commercial life. It is this balance between the length of the innovation cycles and the commercial lifespan of the plant varieties that has allowed the system to operate satisfactorily for the users public and private breeders and to the benefit of growers and society as a whole. THE ARRIVAL OF BIOTECHNOLOGY In the 1990s the development of biotechnology and advances in biology opened up important new areas of investigation and led to significant advances in knowledge however they also raised new questions concerning the protection of innovations. These considerations led to the adoption of European Directive 9844 on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions. The directive excluded plant varieties from BY JEAN-CHRISTOPHE GOUACHE DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS LIMAGRAIN FRANOIS DESPREZ PRESIDENT MAISON FLORIMOND DESPREZ CLAUDE TABEL PRESIDENT RAGT Developing IP tools to better meet the sectors needs. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE GOUACHE FRANOIS DESPREZ CLAUDE TABEL 28 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM its scope recognising the specific nature of plant breeding and the relevance of the protection of plant varieties by PVPs under UPOVs international convention. It also excluded from its scope essentially biological processes whose definition was clarified in 2010 in a deci- sion of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office. THE ACCELERATION OF PLANT BREEDING PROCESSES In the 2000s an explosion in the acquisition of new knowledge in particular about genomes and the development of computing power for the use and analysis of data dramatically changed the impetus for and speed of plant improvement programmes. In terms of vari- etal creation this acceleration in the innovation process led to the respective timescales for innovation and commercial obsolescence falling out of phase. In a short space of time as a result of using the breeder exemp- tion the generation N1 innovation is on the market and in direct competition with its founder initial variety of generation N. This direct competition begins before the start of the commercial obsoles- cence of generation Ns variety endangering the win-win mechanism that had worked well up to this point. UNCERTAINTIES IN THE SCOPE OF PATENT APPLICATION In the 1990s those engaged in plant improvement began using patents to protect some of their innovations where they met the relevant criteria for patentability. The scope of this new use of the patents was subsequently framed in European Directive 9844 and other legal framework that govern European patents. This huge advance in knowledge has also enabled a large number of biotechnological innovations whose needs for protection by a suitable intellectual property tool have led to an increasing use of patents. Adding to all this the rapid developments in knowledge and technol- ogy and the fact that it is still early days for the patentability of biotech- nological inventions meaning all actors in the field both applicants and examiners are somewhat inexperienced we can better understand why in the mid-2000s this state of affairs led to questions being raised about both the patents themselves and the interplay between PVPs and patents. With regard to patents a number of questions arose in terms of their application in the field of plants. We will highlight two particularly impor- tant ones here i should an innovation be classed as being inventive in nature as opposed to simply a discovery when it makes use of pre-existing genetic resources only ii what is the definition of the essentially biological processes that apply in the particular field of plant improvement This led the European Patent Office to gradually clarify through case law the scope of patents and the granting of claims. Little by little the issues have been clarified but there remain areas of debate. With respect to the interplay between PVPs and patents one of the questions raised was that of the application of the breeder exemption. It is possible for a variety to be protected by a PVP and at the same time that one of its characteristics fall within the scope of a patent claim. For the breeder the problem of the interface between two forms of intellectual property rights is thiscan the breeder exemption be exercised to use the protected variety for breeding purposes without infringing the patent This is currently the subject of much debate including within the plant improvement sector. It is essential the questions raised are clarified so that all actors can continue their activities with confidence. We will return to this issue. HOWINTELLECTUALPROPERTYTOOLSNEEDTODEVELOP In the light of the analysis above we believe the developments required to cope with tomorrows issues need to be considered as a whole. We think solutions are possible which will allow a way out of this apparent conflict between the two forms of protection. Moreover it is possible to give each intellectual property tool its proper place and relevance in the necessary framework for the protection of innovations and re-establish a clear and workable framework and set of protective tools for the plant improvement sector. It is important to remember here the importance of the need for both tools PVPs and patents in affording protection to all innova- tions produced by the plant improvement sector and in plant biology in general. Each tool can be applied where it is most effective and rel- evant striking a balance between protecting innovation and sharing knowledge and progress to the benefit of society as a whole. THE DEVELOPMENT OF UPOV We are convinced that the sui generis rights created by the UPOV convention and the Proprietary Variety Protection certificate that materializes them remain the best-adapted tools for the protection of plant varieties and we would defend their exclusive use for this purpose as well as supporting the exclusion of plant varieties from the field of patentability. However it has become imperative to find a way to restore the virtuous circle that operated for over 40 years based fundamentally on the synchronicity of the cycles for innovation and commercial obsolescence. Specifically this requires consideration of modifica- tions to the UPOV convention to restore this synchronicity with the discussion focusing on the time when the option to exercise the breeder exemption comes into play and considering this as a func- tion of different families of species because the requirements for synchronicity can vary greatly between them. It is also reasonable to assume that modifying the convention in such a way would make use of PVPs more attractive especially in areas where plant varieties can also be protected by patents in particular where that protection relates to the protection of complex combinations of genes obtained through plant breeding. DEVELOPMENTS IN THE SCOPE OF EUROPEAN DIRECTIVE 9844 In parallel the scope of patent use in the field of plants needs to be clarified which in turn requires clarification of the scope of Directive 9844. The scope of this directive currently excludes plant varieties and essentially biological processes. We highlighted earlier the relatively recent nature of the use of patents in the field of plant biology. It seems essential in light of experience in the last 10 years to clarify the directives scope with the aim of further defining the nature of exemptions applying to some innovations taking place in plant varieties. A first step was taken with the decision of 9 December 2010 Procedure G207 of the Enlarged Board of Appeal EBA of the European Patent Office EPO which took the view that a process for the production of plants which contains or consists of the steps of sexually crossing the whole genomes of plants and of subsequently selecting plants is an Essentially Biological Process EBP and is therefore excluded from the scope of patentability. However in its decision of 25 March 2015 Procedure G213 the EBA did not exclude products resulting from EBPs from the scope of patentability. The EBA stresses its strictly legal interpretation of the European Patent Convention and Directive 9844 as they stand today while at the same time recognising this response leaves the ongoing debate on the issue open with regard to other bodies. Following these two EBA decisions we are faced with a paradox. While we consider the essentially biological processes described in Decision G207 in 2010 correspond to the definition of plant breeding activity the random crossbreeding of plant genomes and subsequent selection in the progeny and that plant varieties are excluded from patentability in the EU the products produced from these EBPs are patentable. Logically a rationalisation of this situation should lead to products resulting from these EBPs also being excluded from patentability. It is important to note the products resulting from such pro- cesses are combinations of the genes present in plants and the sui generis system developed by UPOV was designed to protect these combinations of genes as a whole. Finally and more generally it seems the use of purely biological processes that result in unpredictable recombinations or generation EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 29 of genetic diversity involving complete genomes should not lead to the granting of patents or at the very least to patent claims relating to the products obtained. We believe that continued development of these two approaches to intellectual property UPOV and the scope of European Directive 9844 in the way we have set out is essential for the protection of innovations resulting from plant breeding and would allow the tools to be fully restored to their proper and mutually complementary roles. Against this backdrop it is important initiatives that would lead to the two proposed developments are pursued simultaneously. THE INTERFACE BETWEEN DIFFERENT SYSTEMS We discussed earlier the issue of interplay between PVPs and patents that appeared in the 2000s in the context of the current use of these two intellectual property protection tools. Accordingly we must also address the issue of the interface between patents and PVPs after the developments at UPOV and in Directive 9844 discussed above have taken place. The aim here with regard to intellectual property rights is not to be able to use the patented invention at the expense of respect for the legitimate rights of the inventor but to have access to genetic diversity the gene pool comprised within the variety in order to pursue breeding activity. Since the 2000s the plant breeding community has been propos- ing solutions to manage this type of interfaceif a plant variety has a characteristic that is the subject of a patent claim a breeder wanting to use this variety as a source of genetic variability would have to do so within the framework of the breeder exemption. French German and Dutch law and the new European unitary patent have already recognized this situation by clearly establishing that use of the breeder exemption cannot be considered a patent infringement during the breeding phase. After this permitted breed- ing process two eventualities can arise i the characteristic cov- ered by the patent claim is no longer present in the progeny and the breeder has complete freedom to operate using the new variety or ii this characteristic is present in the new variety and the breeder must obtain a license from the patent holder before beginning any marketing activity. Such pragmatic management which respects everybodys rights and obligations was adopted unanimously across a full range of plant breeders from small-scale family companies to multina- tionals when they convened at the International Seed Federations 2012 Congress. OVERHAUL REQUIRED While reiterating the importance and need for the two complemen- tary tools PVPs and patents to protect intellectual property that arises from innovations in plant breeding we propose that the two legislative frameworks that govern them the UPOV convention and Directive 9844 should jointly evolve to take into account the scien- tific and technical developments of the last two decades. Both of these legal instruments were the result of the think- ing and knowledge of the 1990s. Twenty-five years on an overhaul appears to be required something that has precedent in the 1978 and 1991 modifications to the UPOV convention. We are convinced that the changes proposed would allow the clarification of both the role and place of the two systems in the protection of innovations to the benefit of all actors in the plant breeding sector. This would also help ensure the sustainability of funding for research to meet the needs of growers and the expectations of society. We made a deliberate choice not to discuss the detailed prac- tical measures required for the implementation of our proposals and we do not underestimate the complexity this would entail. Our overriding aim is to stimulate thinking about the issues and to con- tribute to the debate in the widest sense. In this vein we considered it important to set out our views on the needs of the plant breeding sector with regard to intellectual property tools. It also appeared vital to clarify the debate on the use of PVPs and patents as com- plementary tools that afford different types of protection and which we see no reason to oppose. We hope the contribution made by our discussion of the issues will also serve to inform legislators about the needs and expectations of the plant breeding industry. Sunower Canola and Sorghum Production Hybrid Seed Production Processing Packaging and Distribution Brand Support Consultation Nathan Williams International 00.1.530.681.2782 nathanalphasunseed.com WWW.ALPHASUNSEED.COM Your Independent North American Partner in Northern California FIRST CLASS SEED PRODUCTION AND SERVICE Contact us to learn how AlphaSun Seed can offer Nathan Williams International 00.1.530.681.2782 nathanalphasunseed.comNathan Williams International 00.1.530.681.2782 nathanalphasunseed.com WWW.ALPHASUNSEED.COMWWW.ALPHASUNSEED.COM FIRST CLASSFIRST CLASSFIRST CLASSFIRST CLASSFIRST CLASSFIRST CLASS SEED PRODUCTIONSEED PRODUCTIONSEED PRODUCTIONSEED PRODUCTIONSEED PRODUCTIONSEED PRODUCTIONSEED PRODUCTIONSEED PRODUCTIONSEED PRODUCTIONSEED PRODUCTIONSEED PRODUCTIONSEED PRODUCTIONSEED PRODUCTIONSEED PRODUCTION AND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICEAND SERVICE 30 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM Get Actionable Results With Our Digital Advertising Positions THE FIRST SEED-INDUSTRY PUBLISHERS TO DEVELOP CREATIVE DIGITAL DISPLAY OPTIONS FOR ADVERTISERS. ROLL DOWN AD Book now and receive 25 Off new digital opportunities Email marketingissuesink.com for more information. Carousel Pop-Up Roll Down Slider Take Over Sticky Beltway Video Ad THE FOLLOWING ADS ARE NOW AVAILABLE ON EUROPEAN-SEED.COM Sponsored Sponsored Content Advertorial Sponsored Sponsored Content Advertorial GET 25 OFF NOW 32 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM USING WAGENINGEN GENE TECHNOLOGY POTATOES CAN NOW BE PRODUCED WHICH REQUIRE VERY LITTLE PESTICIDE TO STAY FREE OF POTATO BLIGHT. RESISTANT POTATO VARIETIES COULD BE A REALITY WITHIN FIVE YEARS BUT GENETIC MODIFICATION IS A SENSITIVE ISSUE AND A DECISION IN BRUSSELS IS ANXIOUSLY AWAITED. he pathogen Phytophthora infestans which causes potato blight is literally everywhere. The infectious water can be in the soil in any area where potatoes are grown. This single-celled pathogen can repro- duce incredibly fast and is capable of destroy- ing a crop in a matter of weeks. To prevent this Dutch farmers spray their potato fields 10 to 16 times a season with fungicides. As a result potato cultiva- tion is responsible for half of all pesticides used in Dutch agriculture. It also costs farmers 600 euros per hectare of potatoes. Overall Dutch farmers spend more than 100 million euros every year on protection against Phytophthora commonly referred to as potato blight. Worldwide crop losses due to Phytophthora are estimated at up to 10 billion euros a year. Last September saw the completion of a long-term project in which Wageningen researchers developed potato varieties that are resistant to potato blight. Genetic modifica- tion was used to insert genes from wild Central American potato species in these varieties. Phytophthora scarcely has any effect on them in field trials it proved possible to reduce the use of pesticides by 80 per cent. The genetically modified potato plants are almost identical to the traditional varieties. Except when you have experimental plots where no pesticides have been used then the upgraded varieties look a lot different says project manager and agrosystems researcher Anton Haverkort from Wageningen UR. They continue to grow whereas the standard plants next to them rot away. After a couple of weeks the trial field looks like a green and brown chessboard. It is more than 10 years since a delega- tion of civil servants from various ministries visited Wageningen in search of projects on the application of genetic modification in agriculture. Haverkort There was a feeling in government circles that the Netherlands was starting to lag behind. No other country earns so much from seeds seed material and flower bulbs but we were doing nothing with genetic modification. It was almost inevitable that Wageningen would come up with a pro- ject focusing on potatoes and Phytophthora says Haverkort. It is the most important Dutch arable crop and potato blight is a major problem. Furthermore Wageningen professor Evert Jacobsen had been working on genetic modifications of potatoes for a while and he had already discovered a few Phytophthora- resistant genes. So we could get off to a flying start we knew that we would be able to pro- duce a potato with lasting resistance within 10 years. The proposal soon got the go-ahead with a grant of 10 million euros from natural gas revenues. And so the DuRPh project was born the Dutch acronym stands for lasting resist- ance to Phytophthora. A new form of genetic modification was deliberately chosen for the DuRPh project only species- specific potato DNA was used to make the plants resistant. That meant genes from wild potatoes that could also be crossed with modern potatoes through pollination. RESISTANT POTATO AWAITS APPROVAL BY ARNO VAN T HOOG EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 33 FUNGICIDECONSUMPTION Each season several sometimes up to 15 sprays with fungicides are needed to keep late blight under control. With 1400 tonnes of active sub- stance a year the Dutch potato sector is a leader in fungicide consumption and the late blight disease costs Dutch growers over 100 million euros in crop protection and losses every year. Global average losses due to late blight are estimated to be around 22 per cent. LIFE CYCLE OF THE LATE BLIGHT FUNGUS Late blight is caused by the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans. It is notable for having both an asexual and sexual life cycle. P. infestans reproduces asexually predominantly and spreads via zoospores but in certain locations of the world the sexual cycle is dominant and there it spreads via oospores. The zoospores can travel easily on the wind when the weather is cool and moist and can rapidly infect neighboring fields and continue to produce more spores there. In the absence of the oospore stage Phytophthora infestans survives between potato crops as mycelium in infected tuber The oospores have a much tougher cell wall and can survive in the soil for years. TRADITIONAL PLANT BREEDING Genetic modification that remains within the species is termed cisgenesis as opposed to transgenesis in which DNA is used from a dif- ferent species or bacteria. Transgenic maize and soya beans with genes from bacteria and viruses have given rise to many questions and much debate over the past 20 years about the risks to humans and the environment. Cisgenesis avoids some of those objec- tions as the result is much closer to the outcome of conventional plant breeding. Haverkort By using cisgenesis we wanted to keep a link with traditional plant breed- ing. Cisgenesis is somewhat trickier and more expensive because selecting the right modi- fied plants is a little more difficult. In the course of the project the research- ers tracked down 15 resistance genes in wild potato species. Those genes enable a plant to recognise Phytophthora causing a rapid immune response on first contact so that the pathogen is unable to get a foot in the door. But resistance is never permanent. Organisms are constantly evolving and so new strains of Phytophthora could emerge over the years that even resistant plants are unable to cope with. The potato plant no longer recog- nises its attacker so the infection can take hold. Breaking through the plants immune system is a great deal harder however if it has multiple resistance genes. That is why the researchers created a chain of two or three different resist- ance genes and inserted them in the DNA of the potato cells. The plants that grow from these cells undergo extensive testing not just for their resistance to the disease but also to check that they are similar to the original vari- ety in all other respects. This method was used to create Phytophthora-resistant versions of three potato varieties Premire Dsire and Aveka. Field trials produced convincing results. This does not mean pesticides are completely redundant says Haverkort. It would be possi- ble to do without pesticides entirely but when the foliage turns yellow in the autumn levels of resistance are low too and Phytophthora could get an opportunity to attack. Then it is a good idea to spray the plants once or twice. It is also possible that Phytophthora will gradually evolve and therefore bypass one of the resist- ance genes that is another reason for spraying occasionally says Haverkort. There will always be a need to closely monitor developments in Phytophthora just as there will be for switching potato variants whenever Phytophthora looks like bypassing a resistance gene. You need plenty of substi- tutes on the bench so to speak the same potato variety but with a different combina- tion of resistance genes every time. In this way Phytophthora is given little opportunity to adapt to the new combination of genes. If it looks as if a resistance gene has been cracked that variant will not be used for a few years. The Phytophthora strains that cracked the resist- ance will gradually lose that property again. If the resistance gene is brought back into action in the field a few years later it will therefore be effective once more. Haverkort You can make sure that you retain control of Phytophthora and prevent your resistance genes from becom- ing worthless by monitoring the situation and alternating 15 resistance genes in various com- binations. IMPRESSIVE SIGHT I visited the trial fields and they were an impressive sight says Tanja van Oers the chair of the DuRPh supervisory committee and a senior policy officer in the Plant Supply Chain and Food Quality Department in the Ministry of Economic Affairs. You see the resistant potato plants growing with hardly any pesticides while the standard varieties die off. The ministry is very enthusiastic about what has been developed within DuRPh says Van Oers. It is a good example of a technique that is contributing to food security and sus- tainability and it can be applied using the existing table potato varieties. So you could make varieties resistant within a few years. This also fits in with one of the ministrys goals which is to reduce the use of pesticides. Sharon Dijksma the former State Secretary for Economic Affairs attended a talk by the researchers says Van Oers. She said then that she hoped the private sector would continue with the application of cisgenic techniques in producing resistant potato vari- eties. Van Oers The development phase was funded by the ministry. Now it is up to the pri- vate sector to take this further. The technology has advanced far enough to enable cisgenic potato varieties to be brought onto the market quickly. We want to hear from companies how they intend making use of these results. We can appreciate that Wageningen would like to continue with this research perhaps this will be possible in collaboration with the private sector. You could for instance consider fund- ing through the top sector system with the government supplying part of the funding but with the private sector taking the lead. But if cisgenesis is to become truly appealing to the private sector for example to potato breeding companies then it will need to lose the GMO genetically modified organism label says Robert Graveland head of RD at potato breeding company HZPC the largest producer of seed potatoes in the Netherlands. The company from the town of You see the resistant potato plants growing with hardly any pesticides while the standard varieties die off. ANTON HAVERKORT 34 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM Joure exports seed potatoes to more than 80 countries. Graveland sees major benefits from this technology but so far HZPC is only apply- ing it in a research project it is definitely not using cisgenesis in breeding new varieties. After all the companys website has a clear non-GMO statement stating that all the varieties it supplies were developed without the use of genetic modification. Our custom- ers want us to state our position clearly says Graveland. This shows how the potato sector views genetic modification and as long as cisgenesis is seen as a form of genetic mod- ification that method will not be an inter- esting option for plant breeding companies. Companies are also saying that the approval criteria are currently preventing them from using cisgenesis says Van Oers. Because the technology is classified as a GMO technique field trials and risk assessments are needed before a cisgenic variety can be brought on the market. We hope that the outcome of an anal- ysis by the European Commission will help in that regard. The Commission is working on a judicial investigation of the application of leg- islation to new breeding techniques. That may lead to a new classification for cisgenesis with less stringent procedures than for other GMOs. In 2012 the European Food Safety Authority EFSA already concluded that the risks run by consumers from cisgenic plant varieties are comparable to those from plants produced by traditional plant breeding. But early this year a coalition of European environmental and consumer organisations including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth published an open letter calling on the European Commission not to make an excep- tion for cisgenesis. They consider the risks to be higher and think that these crops should continue to be subject to the same tests and labelling requirements. Opponents have said for a while that inserting genes from the same species can still have similar unexpected and unpredictable effects to the effects from modification using genes from a different species. An inserted gene ends up in a random position in the plants genetic material and can therefore inadvert- ently disrupt processes which could lead to the creation of toxic or allergic substances. It is therefore open to question whether an end will soon come to the debate on the assessment of cisgenesis which has been going on for years. LAUNCHING NEW VARIETIES We really need a European ruling like this we cant start doing our sums until we have it says Graveland from the potato breeding com- pany HZPC. If there is no change in the regu- lations and you are required to build up dossier with field tests and risk assessments that will make things very difficult. Then launching a cisgenic potato variety will take 10 years and cost tens of millions of euros. We could never recoup that investment. So our decision as a company on whether to add cisgenesis to our suite of techniques depends crucially on what the EU decides. Graveland has been a member of the DuRPh supervisory committee since 2006. He says that the project has already produced a great deal of knowledge that can be put into practice in potato breeding practice quite apart from cisgenesis. Thanks to this research plant breeders now know how best to combine resist- ance genes. Now they can use DNA screening to select parent plants according to their genetic profiles and then cross-breed them. In this way varieties can be produced with new Phytophthora resistance genes using conven- tional breeding methods. According to Van Oers this application is where DuRPh has added value for organic farming too. Genetic know-how from the pro- ject helps plant breeding regardless of whether cisgenesis is used. There is more than one way of achieving the same end result. The nice thing was that the organic sector had exten- sive contact with the research on resistance to Phytophthora. Although conventional breeding methods can also produce resistance to Phytophthora that route takes longer about 10 to 15 years says Graveland. Cisgenesis offers another advantage to plant breeding companies aiming to corner the conservative potato market. Potato growers and food processing companies such as the manufacturers of French fries and potato chips are used to potato varieties that produce tubers with a known shape starch composition and frying properties. They are therefore not keen on switching to a new vari- ety. If you use cisgenesis you are only alter- ing the resistance all those familiar varietal China is the largest potato producer on the planet growing nearly a quarter of the total global production. After wheat rice and corn the potato is the fourth largest food crop for human consumption in terms of produced tonnes. POLAND 9.1 CHINA 95.9 UKRAINE 22.3 RUSSIA 30.2 UNITED STATES 19.8 BANGLADESH 8.2INDIA 45.3 NETHERLANDS 6.8 GERMANY 10.7 GLOBAL POTATO CULTIVATION FRANCE 6.3 Source FAOSTAT data 2015 Genetic know-how from the project helps plant breeding regardless of whether cisgenesis is used. There is more than one way of achieving the same end result. TANJA VAN OERS EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 35 properties remain the same. That is a real advantage when compared with traditional plant breeding. This is precisely why the Belgians want to use cisgenesis to create a Phytophthora resistant Bintje. Bintje is a popular French fry potato in Flanders but this variety is highly susceptible to Phytophthora. Three Flemish institutionsGhent University the life sciences research institute VIB and the agricultural institute ILVOwant to change that. In 2011 and 2012 we got some experi- ence through field trials in Wetteren using plants from the DuRPh project says Ren Custers from VIB. I think DuRPh has really got the ball rolling that project is at the basis of everything that is possible at present. We now have the resistance genes the knowledge and the means to make Bintje resistant for the long term. We dont need to go looking for new resist- ance genes we can build on the research done in Wageningen. If everything goes according to plan the first field trials of the upgraded variant of Bintje will take place in 2017 or 2018 says Custers who studied Molecular Sciences in Wageningen. We want to create a Bintje with a few effective combinations of resistance genes. This will be followed by a development process with field trials and then there will have to be a commercialisation process started by a potato breeding company. People in Flanders are also waiting anxiously for the decision by the European Commission on cisgenesis. Custers Even if cisgenic potatoes continue to be covered by the existing rules it is debatable whether the same battery of safety tests will have to be carried out for these potatoes as is required for many transgenic crops. I hope that this will prompt a new debate because Phytophthora- resistant potatoes are a very important prod- uct. Resistant varieties can also be obtained using traditional methods but these still need to prove their worth. And they will not have a combination of multiple resistance genes which makes it more difficult for them to retain their resistance in the long term. The Sainsbury Laboratory in Britain which published an article last summer together with Wageningen UR researchers about the discovery of a new resistance gene has also started a project to make an existing potato variety resistant to Phytophthora using cisgenesis. The technology is now sufficiently advanced that both Belgium and Britain will be able to launch a resistant variety within four to five years estimates Haverkort. TUBERS HARVESTED There are no signs as yet of a comparable Dutch follow-up project. It is not clear what will happen to the potato variants from the DuRPh project. The tubers were recently har- vested but whether they will be planted next year depends on the funding. Continuing to OOSPORE SPORE PERIOD OF SURVIVAL OOSPORE OOGONIUM ANTHERIDIUM INFECTION CYST ZOOSPORE CONIDIUM SPOROPHORE SPORANGIUM 2N K P 1N M 2N SEXUAL ASEXUAL cultivate them would cost about 30000 euros a year. A grant application was rejected by the Ministry of Economic Affairs although retaining the potato variants is one item in the discussions that the ministry is holding with companies about follow-up research. Haverkort would like to keep the DuRPh variants for monitoring and demonstrations. We can let them grow as small plants in the lab only then it takes two seasons before they can be cultivated in fields again. But we still have four months to find a solution before the seed potatoes start to rot. Despite this open end Haverkort sees the results from DuRPh mainly as the perfect outcome. We really got the hang of the scientific and technical aspects. The project is not a semi-failure just because the results are not yet being applied in the agricultural sector. Of course it would have been wonderful if our research had led to a change in the law but that was not the aim. That would have been a side effect and this is something that will still take some time. Source Wageningen World magazine of Wageningen UR www.wageningenur.nlendurph LATE BLIGHT LIFE CYCLE 36 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM SPOTLIGHT UKRAINE AN ATTRACTIVE PARTNER A CLOSER LOOK AT THE SEED ASSOCIATION OF UKRAINE. BY SEED ASSOCIATION OF UKRAINE n recent years Ukraine has significantly increased its economic performance in the agricultural sector. By joining the World Trade Organization accession to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Schemes of varietal certification and ratification of the International Seed Testing Association Constitution the Ukraine government has made significant steps toward the global market. Through these changes the country has strengthened its position in different markets making it an attractive partner particularly for investment. In November 2009 Ukraine was accepted as a member of the OECD schemes of varietal certification and control of movement of seed in international trade in particular the seeds of cereals maize and sorghum. Since 2009 Ukraine has adopted the necessary legislative and administrative measures to ensure seeds produced in Ukraine are in line with EU requirements. In particular Parliament adopted the Ukraine Law On Ukraines accession to the OECD Scheme of varietal certification of cereal seeds Scheme of varietal certification of maize and sorghum seed of 15 February 2011 No. 3019-VI. In a similar effort in 2010 Ukraine assumed obligations to participate in ISTA by approval of the Ukraine Law On ratification of the Constitution of the International Seed Testing Association. As a result the Ukraine Law On seeds and planting stock No. 5397-VI dated 2 December 2012 has also been adapted in line with international requirements and adopted in the new edition. And last but not least on 6 April 2011 Ukraine announced its intention to receive EU certification equivalence of seed crops maize and sorghum. In May and June 2015 the EU mission conducted an audit in Ukraine in order to grant the EU recognition of equivalence of field inspections of seed crops for seed production and inspection of produced seed. The audit report was positive and Ukraine is now waiting for an approval issued by competent bodies of the EU. I UKRAINES SEED SECTOR In 2014 the total area of seed crops in Ukraine reached 1098000 hectares seed crops only with a total production of certified seed of 2037000 tons Table 1. Of this total amount about 400000 tonnes of certified seed was sold in the market and the rest was used by agricultural and seed companies for their own needs. According to Ukrainian legislation seed producers shall register themselves for access to the production processing and sale of seeds. Over the past three years the number of registered seed producers decreased from 1399 in 2012 to 912 in 2014. An update of the register of seed producers certification takes place every year as part of the application for seed production. As of September 2015 the register of seed producers included 729 entities. Table 1 lists the production data from 2012 to 2014 with respect to certain types of seed crops according to the request for equivalence recognition. SEED ASSOCIATION OF THE UKRAINE The Seed Association of Ukraine SAU was established in April 2010. The founders and members of the association are leading international and Ukrainian companies that operate in the field of plant breeding and seed production and own breeding and genetic products. The association represents the interests of seed manufacturers and suppliers and brings together leading international and Ukrainian companies that work in the field of plant breeding and seed production in Ukraine. The SAU is an independent professional association of seed industry enterprises. The activities of member companies cover many different crops such as winter crops spring crops legumes cereals and fodder crops potatoes sugar and fodder beets oilseeds corn sorghum and vegetable crops. EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 37 TABLE 1. SEED PRODUCTION OF CERTAIN CEREAL CROPS IN UKRAINE FROM 2012 TO 2014 Crop 2012 2013 2014 Seed crops area 1000 ha Produced seeds 1000 ton Seed crops area 1000 ha Produced seeds 1000 ton Seed crops area 1000 ha Produced seeds 1000 ton Winter wheat 634.0 634.0 652.3 1360.2 570.7 1191.6 Winter barley 84.5 84.5 95.4 195.8 80.8 158.5 Winter rye 39.8 39.8 30.3 43.8 17.7 24.5 Spring wheat 26.0 26.0 13.9 39.6 14.8 26.0 Spring barley 201.5 201.5 169.0 380.0 149.4 261.0 Oat 32.9 32.9 21.5 47.2 21.3 28.8 Corn 29.4 29.4 40.5 114.7 43.1 108.0 Sorghum 0.4 0.4 0.4 1.1 0.1 0.6 Total 1048.5 1048.5 1023.3 2181.4 897.9 1799.0 TABLE 2. SEEDS EXPORT AND IMPORT TONS FROM 2012 TO 2014 Crop Financial Year 2012 2013 2014 Export Import Export Import Export Import Corn 6694 na 8221 na 9326 na Sunflower 698 na 212 na 1197 na Winter wheat 78 na 130 na 251 na Soybean 21 na 5 na 2697 na Total 7491 62076 8568 70030 13471 81287 The associations main objectives include the following to achieve a transparent and efficient seed market to actively participate in the development of relevant legislation to comply with the rules of fair competition in accordance with the current legislation of Ukraine to protect intellectual property rights in breeding to facilitate the adaptation of the organisational structure of the seed industry and standards to international standards to promote the image of Ukraine in the international market as a reliable partner for investment and doing business in the field of seed production. SAUs key purposes are to facilitate the formation of a competitive seed market in Ukraine and to open global markets for the Ukrainian agricultural sector. The association protects its members interests as well as promotes the international standards of the seed industry in Ukraine. ASSOCIATION STRUCTURE The associations governing bodies are the general assembly of the association and the board. The general assembly is the highest governing body of the association and meets once per year. Currently the executive director is Siuzana Hryhorenko. The board is a standing collegiate governing body of the association that convenes between general assembly meetings. The general meeting determines the quantitative composition of the board. To date there are seven members of the board. The chairman of the board organises and guides the activities of the association. The chairman and vice chairman of the board are elected at the general assembly meeting by a qualified majority for a term of one year. Since June 2015 Olexandr Fedorov CEO of KWSUkraine is the chairman of the board. The executive body of the association is the executive authority headed by the chief executive of the association. To date the chief executive of the association is Susana Grigorenko. At present there are two committees in the structure of the association which consist of delegated representatives of association member companies. The activities of the Committee on the Protection of Plant Varieties are aimed at implementing the statutory objectives of the association and provides for the following processing according to the legal regulation in the field of plant varieties protection in Ukraine and trends and mechanisms of realisation of state policy in the field of plant variety rights facilitating communication between members of the association and discussion of the issues within the jurisdiction of the committee that arise in the professional activities of association members determining the actual questions andor urgent problems in the field of plant variety rights their consideration and determining the position for action or response of the association for the promotion of initiatives on behalf of the association fostering the development of practical application of legislation in the field of plant variety rights participants interaction between experts of plant variety rights protection promoting a positive image of the association and bringing the community objective information on the content and status of the protection of plant variety rights in Ukraine. The Committee on Seed Production and Certification is responsible for all issues related to the following elaboration of directions and mechanisms of participants rights and obligations implementation according to legal regulation in the sphere of production and certification of seeds and plant quarantine discussion of the issues within the jurisdiction of the committee that arise in professional activity of association members determining the actual questions andor urgent problems in the field of seed production and certification their consideration and 38 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM SPOTLIGHT UKRAINE determining position for action or response of the association for the promotion of initiatives on behalf of the association fostering the development of practical application of legislation regarding the production and certification of seeds and plant quarantine development of initiative proposals to improve the work of the association in production and certification of seeds interaction between experts on seed production and certification and informing the international community on the content and status of seed production and certification. STRENGTHENING INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT In 2011 Ukraine through SAU became a full member of the European Seed Association ESA. In March 2012 the SAU and ESA signed a General Code of Conduct. The main purpose of the adoption of the code is to establish and support international behaviour in the seed market aimed at encouraging ethical standards of companies and entities that operate in the field of seed production. In June 2012 the SAU joined the International Seed Federation ISF as an ordinary member and in 2013 held the first international conference on seed issues with the participation of the secretaries general of ESA and ISF. At the same time SAU regularly conducts working meetings with representatives of the State Agricultural Inspectorate the State Veterinary and Phytosanitary Service of Ukraine and several research and governmental institutions. In 2015 the association represented by the chairman of the board participated in the annual meeting of the ESA. For the association this participation was an important event as it enables Ukraine market participants to feel integrated into the European market and is an opportunity to follow the effectiveness of the joint efforts. The main external activities of the SAU include the following active cooperation with governmental authorities holding extended meetings with the competent authorities that form and implement policy in agriculture participation in working groups at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food on seed issues organisation and conducting practical seminars and workshops cooperation and holding working meetings with scientific institutions of the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Ukraine operating at relevant state bodiesprovides proposals for draft laws that govern relations of the agricultural sector of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on Agrarian Policy and Land Relations development of proposals for legal regulation for industry executive authorities and developers of legal acts cooperation with international organisations working meetings with representatives of OECD and assistance in passing of the OECD audit by Ukraine on seed certification schemes in addition constant participation in industry conferences and seminars held in the field of agriculture. The main internal activities of the SAU include the following support of high standards of enterprise activities and business ethics among association members ensure efficient operation by association participants based on respect for the rule of law principle of legality and universally recognized ethical standards communicate other actors of seed market fundamentally legal position in relations with public authorities Ukraine show high level of responsibility and competitiveness of association members focus on the protection of economic interests of association members joint actions to achieve the effectiveness of legal regulation in the field of seed production. As part of the changes taking place today in the administrative system of Ukraines state administration it is vital to strengthen the role of professional non-governmental organisations and institutions. Also it should be noted that regardless of the industry the reputation of companies concerning their business culture statutory compliance as well as continuous improvement of varieties and hybrids of agricultural crops is crucially important. JOIN SAU Among the requirements for SAU membership is a positive reputation a high-performance business culture compliance with legal requirements and the ability to work on continuous improvement of varieties hybrids of crops. The association is always open to companies that chose a policy of reliability transparency and efficiency in the agricultural market of Ukraine. FUTURE CHALLENGES Despite the good outlook there are still a few challenges ahead for both the industry as well as the association such as to reform public administration and executive agencies to change legislation in the field of seed certification to optimise the taxation system to improve crop adaptation to global climate change to expand its own participation in international seed trade. LOOKING AHEAD SAU expects the importance of Ukrainian seed production and investments in the sector of agricultural production will constantly increase and the significant potential of the industry which until now has not been fully utilised will be realised. On the agenda in the near future is the completion of the accession to the OECD seed certification schemes for crucifers and other oil or fibre species. Ratio of import to export is 61. In 2014 in general Ukraine imported around 80 thousand tons of seeds including 57 thousand tons of corn 13.5 thousand tons of sunflower 2.7 thousand tons of rape. In the same year the country exported 14 thousand tons including 13.5 thousand tons of grain Table 2. In comparison with 2013 the volume of export increased by 27 per cent. For crops such as sunflower corn and sugar beet imports prevail. Export group is cereal crops. Winter wheat is a major agricultural crop and its seed production is more than 50 per cent of all seeds produced in Ukraine followed by barley and corn production. Seed production of triticale and durum wheat is relatively smallabout 1000 hectares per species each year. With respect to winter crops over the last two to three years Ukraine exported mostly seeds of winter wheat. In terms of spring crops spring barley seed is mainly exported. The country also exported corn sunflower and soy. The main consumers of seeds produced in Ukraine so far are the Commonwealth of Independent States countries including Russia Moldova Belarus Turkey and Iran. The preference of farmers remai ns v irtual ly unchangedhigh-quality seeds. IMPORT AND EXPORT ukrseeds.org.uaen EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 39 ast year the Italian city Milan hosted the 2015 World Expo dedicated to the theme Feeding the Planet Energy for Life. Twenty-one million people visited Expo its 54 pavilions and nine thematic clusters from 1 May 2015 to 31 October. The Expo themes focused on innovative solutions to future food and nutrition security challenges. From the French pavilions theme Different Ways of Producing and Providing Food to the United Arab Emirates Food for Thought Sharing the Future each country had the opportunity to present different farming and food production systems to address food-related issues from famine to food waste. In addition the Commission held several conferences during the months of Expo in the European Unions pavilion. The majority of seminars were organised by the Commissions Joint Research Centre which also led the coordination of the EU Scientific Programme for Expo Milano 2015s Steering Committee. The main message proposed by the EU pavilion was food security can be obtained by innovation and tradition and strong collaboration between science and agriculture. It was an occasion to reflect on relevant questions about food security and efficient and sustainable food production. Nowadays Food and Agriculture Organization data about population growth and the need to increase food production are the most quoted statistics on related issues at any level institutional conferences public debates or dedicated television programmes. It is clear it is essential to make use of any significant opportunities to successfully address this challenge and the potential roles of the different players involvedMember States scientists industry and society. Millions of people visited Expo but were they really offered answers to the main theme of feeding the planet Many countries decided to use the world fair to portray their excellence in terms of agriculture and food production. This made a nice travel around the world through diverse tastes and cultures however it was easy to forget about the challenges of feeding a growing world population and making food accessible to everyone. In this framework the EU Scientific Steer i n g Com m ittee lau nched ma ny initiatives in the areas of research and WILL EXPO DISCUSSIONS AFFECT THE DECISIONS OF TOMORROW BY ALESSIA COGLIANDRO innovation meetings and targeted surveys or broader consultations with an aim to ensure the European Union would establish its role as a key player in a global scientific debate. The com m ittee presented a discussion paper in April 2015 where seven key research themes were identified as strategic with respect to food and nutrition security improve public health through nutrition via healthy and sustainable consumption increase food safety and quality reduce losses and waste through a more efficient food chain manage the land for all ecosystem services through sustainable rural development increase agricultural outputs through sustainable intensification u n der s t a n d fo o d m a rket s i n a n increasingly globalised food system increase equity in the food system. During the final event organised by the JRC the chair of the Steering Committee presented the main recommendations on food and nutrition security reached after months of discussion and the collection of survey results. The document New Ways of Providing Knowledge to Tackle Food and Nutrition Security What Should the EU Do proposes results and actions to be taken after Expo. Most experts who contributed to the survey identified the following three issues as the most significant challenges in addressing food and nutrition security i m p r o v e p u b l i c h e a l t h t h r o u g h nutrition and healthy and sustainable consumption reduce food losses and waste manage the land for all ecosystems. Of the participants consulted 93 per cent recognised the need for trans- and interdisciplinary research and 82 per cent acknowledged the need to implement measures to transfer research into use. While those challenges are relevant it is strange that higher yield was not considered among the top challenges listed. Discussions around feeding a growing population while not mentioning the importance of yield illustrates a limited approach which does not take into account the real situation. It is difficult to foresee what the concrete influence of this document will be which should represent the legacy FEEDING THE PLANET ENERGY FOR LIFE THE LEGACY OF EXPO 2015 of Expo. The research and innovation priorities of the Commission and the next dedicated programmes should take into account the results of the document however the challenging work will be to translate those recommendations into activities and policies adapted to needs and capacities. The proposal to establish an intergovernmental panel on food and nutrition security seems to be lacking strong support by the international community and it could be this call may not be heard by those who are responsible for policy shaping. So what will remain of Expo Yes it was colourful. Yes it was modern. And yes it was diverse. But it seemed to concentrate too much on concepts currently politically fashionable in Europelike local markets forgotten species and ethically-produced food and organics. Altogether these concepts represent five per cent in some markets a bit more of the European market. On a world scale with more than a tenth of the world population still going hungry the significance of these approaches to food security is negligible. Short- to medium-term success in combatting hunger and malnutrition strongly depends on productivity advances in staple crops. However there was little talk about how this could be achieved or how Europe intends to lead sustainable i ntensi f ication of fa r m i n g w ith its scientific advances and adapted regulatory approaches. Still this Expo has taken farming to political centre stage. And that is a positive start for further discussion. Alessia Cogliandro is the manager public affairs for the European Seed Association. 40 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM INTERNATIONAL NEWS GLOBAL SEED WATCH DROUGHT IS DRIVING CHANGE IN AFRICA WHILE IN CANADA RESEARCHERS HAVE RELEASED A DRAFT OF THE LENTIL GENOME. STATUS CANADA University of Saskatchewan U of S researchers have released a draft lentil genome assembly that will help develop new understanding and commercial applications of this ancient crop. The lentil genome assembly will pro- vide important information to help us better understand this crop says Kirstin Bett U of S professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and project lead of the international lentil sequencing effort. More importantly it will lead to development of genomic tools that will help improve breeding practices and accelerate varietal development. The development of genomic tools will allow breeders to track multiple complex traits during their cross-breeding which will help them develop high quality and high-yielding lentils in a shorter period of time. Improved speed precision and breadth offered by these genomic tools have proven to be complementary to classical field and phenotype-based breeding practice. This international sequencing effort is unique as the research is farmer-driven and industry-supported. Saskatchewan Pulse Growers SPG has been a strong supporter of pulse crop research and development at the U of S. SPG first partnered with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture in 2011 to provide approximately 1-million for initial lentil genomic research. In 2013 SPG provided more than 1.4-million to kick-start this sequencing initiative. Many international partners came on board once SPG made the investment says Bett. The sequencing work quickly gained momentum and thats why we were able to complete the sequencing in less than three years. T he sequenci n g effor t i ncludes researchers at University of California- Davis National Research Council Canada United States Department of Agriculture Washington State University International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas ICARDA Victoria State Government African Orphan Crop Consortium University of Western Australia and the Institute of Experimental Botany in the Czech Republic. Source University of Saskatchewan STATUS UNITED STATES A new study by researchers at Boyce Thompson Institute BTI has uncovered a veritable trove of genes used by plants to form symbiotic relationships with fungi vastly increasing the knowledge of the genetic basis for this agriculturally valuable interaction. Most land plants get a large portion of their mineral nutrients through a symbiotic relationship with soil fungi called arbuscu- lar mycorrhizal AM symbiosis. But despite decades of research many of the genes required to form this relationship remain elu- sive. Now with the advent of widely available genome sequences BTI researchers were able to compare 50 plant genomes to identify 138 genes shared exclusively by plants capable of AM symbiosis. The findings published in the journal Nature Plants may ultimately bring us closer to developing plants that thrive without added fertiliser. Currently our research field has iden- tified only a handful of genes required exclu- sively for AM symbiosis and we know that there are huge gaps in our knowledge says senior author Maria Harrison the William H. Crocker Professor at BTI. These 138 genes are a valuable resource and provide new insights into the ways that plant cells host their fungal symbionts. Analysis of the new genes that were found highlighted the importance of lipid biosynthesis during symbiosis. While the analysis cannot single out every gene that a plant needs for symbiosis it did pick out the ones that serve no other function except in symbiosis. I think it really shows you the power of bioinformatics says Lukas Mueller a co-au- thor and associate professor at BTI. If you have lots of genomes you have much more power to answer questions. In the future the researchers plan to investigate the remaining 131 genes and to use them to learn more about the development and regulation of the symbiosis. Almost all staple food crops form AM sym- bioses so optimising this interaction through crop breeding could improve yield and reduce the need for fertilisers. Source Boyce Thompson Institute STATUS CHINA The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences will establish an overseas agriculture research center to facilitate the export of more agri- cultural technologies and to encourage more international cooperation the academys pres- ident said. Li Jiayang vice-minister of agriculture and president of the academy said that the academy will seek to establish more multina- tional joint agricultural labs and agricultural technology exhibition centers during the 13th Five-Year Plan 2016-20. The move is part of an effort to push for- ward a more global agricultural technology development strategy and to serve the national Belt and Road Initiative he said. Li said the institute will first seek to establish exhibition centers in Africa and Latin America to pitch Chinese technology and products. The export of agricultural technology is an area with huge potential he said. The tech- nologies should be used to tap the international market in the context of Chinas going global strategy he said. The academy will first prioritise the establishment of multinational labs in areas including biotechnology animal husbandry veterinary medicine and agricultural resources and environment. EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 41 The academy has so far been able to demonstrate and promote 70 hybrid rice vari- eties in 15 countries in Asia and Africa during the past five years. It has also established joint agricultural labs in countries including Brazil Australia Belgium and Kazakhstan. Source Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences STATUS AFRICA A scorching drought in Southern Africa that led to widespread crop failure could nudge African nations to finally embrace genetically modified GM crops to improve harvests and reduce grain imports. The drought which extends to South Africa the continents biggest maize pro- ducer has been exacerbated by an El Nino weather pattern and follows dry spells last year that affected countries from Zimbabwe to Malawi. Aid agency Oxfam has said 10 million people mostly in Africa face hunger because of droughts and poor rains. That has brought GM crops to the forefront especially maize a staple crop grown and consumed in most sub-Saharan countries. Many African countries have banned GM crops arguing that they will cross contaminate other plants pollute the environment and could have long-term health effects for humans. GMO advocates however say the fears are not scientifically proven adding that poor African farmers are likely to benefit most from reduced use of pesticides lower production costs higher yields and high prices for crops. GM crops are one of the alternative solutions for reducing hunger on the conti- nent among many others which include good agronomic practices Jonathan Mufandaedza chief executive at National Biotechnology Authority of Zimbabwe a government agency told Reuters. Exclusively being in the seed coating business we offer our customers long term support and work with them to develop tailored solutions and add value to their seeds. ITS THE MIX THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE www.satec-seedcoating.de EQUIPMENT Dressing Our specialities Encrusting Pelleting CHEMISTRY SERVICE This year South Africa which produces more than 40 per cent of Southern African maize may need to import up to 5 million tonnes of maize due to drought the countrys largest producer group Grain SA said this week. Historically Africa has been a laggard to accept new agricultural technologies. For GM crops much of the problem lies in the percep- tion exaggerated fear and conflicting messages sent to policy making says Getachew Belay an African expert on GM crops. Source Reuters 42 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM REGULATORY KEEPING YOU INFORMED OF LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY CHANGES IN EUROPE AND ABROAD FROM LAWSUITS TO APPROVALS TO OTHER REGULATORY ISSUES AFFECTING YOUR BUSINESS. NATIONAL EU PLANT BREEDERS EXEMPTION MUST BE PROTECTED At its plenary session in Strasburg the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling upon the European Commission to work for a clarifica- tion of the scope of patentability under the EUs Biopatenting Directive. Members of Parliament drafted the resolution in reaction to a recent ruling of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office which in the so-called broccolitomato case first had rejected the patentability of essentially biological processes like e.g. classical crossing and selection but later ruled that products derived from such processes could neverthe- less still be patented. In the resolution they express their concern with this ruling and call upon the Commission to urgently ensure legal clar- ity regarding the prohibition of the patentability of products obtained from essentially biological processes and that breeding with biological material falling under the scope of a patent is permitted. Garlich Von Essen sec- retary general of the European Seed Association ESA welcomed the Parliaments broad support for the resolution. All major political groups have supported this call and this truly sends a very strong signal to the Commission says Von Essen. We have always argued that patents must be restricted to true biotechnological inventions as it was intended by the legislators in 1998. If classical breeding processes are not patentable their resulting products should not be either. EUROPEAN COMMISSION WITHDRAWS AUTHORISATION OF GMOS The European Commission has withdrawn the authorisation of four GMOs for food or feed uses. The four GMOs are MON863 maize MON863xMON810xNK603 maize MON863xMON810 maize and MON863xNK603 maize. These GMOs all of which belong to agriculture company Monsanto have not been cultivated worldwide since 2011 and their commercial phase-out is completed therefore the company has asked for their withdrawal. INTERNATIONAL SGS IS FIRST ACCREDITED SEED QUARANTINE PROVIDER IN BRAZIL SGS has received accreditation from Brazils Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Food Supply for the companys brand new state-of-the-art seed quarantine facility. Located in Piracicaba Sao Paulo it supports the import of seeds for breeding and RD trials for all major crops in Brazil. SGS now offers independent and accurate phytosanitary analysis of seeds imported for research and development programs into Brazil. This service is tailored for breeding companies to support and speed up seed batch release. With extensive capabilities and the latest equipment this facility enables fast and efficient turnaround times for clients and facilitates their access to the marketplace. The accreditation includes all major crops. Seed research and development and regulatory programmes are highly dependent on the importation of seed and propagation materials from different regions of the world. The challenge for the industry is to ensure that this transit is completed safely and without introducing destructive pests and diseases. Failure to do so can have devastating natural and commercial consequences. SGSs new facility is designed to eliminate this risk by detecting identifying containing and eliminating pests such as insects nematodes fungi bacteria viruses weeds and other organisms. The accreditation of our seed quarantine facility is a landmark for agri- culture in Brazil. It is also a credit to the hard work and determination of all those involved in making this project a success said Olivier Coppey executive vice president of Agriculture Food and Life SGS. This new facility will enable seed companies to import seeds safely comply with Brazilian phytosanitary regulations and contribute to the continuous development of Brazils Agriculture industry. FDA APPROVES SECOND GENERATION INNATE POTATOES The United Stated Food and Drug Administration FDA has completed its food and feed safety assessment of the second generation of J.R. Simplots Innate potatoes. The FDA concluded that the Russet Burbank Generation 2 potatoes are not materially different in composition safety and other relevant parameters from any other potato or potato-derived food or feed currently on the market. The second generation of Innate potatoes con- tains four benefits to potato growers processors and consumers reduced bruising and black spots reduced asparagine resistance to late blight pathogens and enhanced cold storage capability. These benefits were achieved by adapting genes from wild and cultivated potatoes. The safety consultation was voluntarily requested by Simplot and comes shortly after the U.S. Department of Agriculture also deregulated the same potatoes. These federal clearances involved a thorough technical review and a public comment period that drew the support of leading potato research univer- sities in the U.S. and Europe. FAS RELEASES STATUS OF GE FEEDS AND REGULATIONS IN TAIWAN The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service released the Global Agricultural Information Network Report on Taiwans genetic engineering products and regulations update. According to the report after the amendment of the Feed Control act in February 2015 all GE products for animal feed must be registered with the Council of Agriculture COA for premar- ket approvals by February 4 2017. GE events previously submitted to Taiwans Food and Drug Administration TFDA andor approved by the Administration are exempted from the COA review and require- ments. TFDAs current approval list is composed of 99 GE products including four canola 12 cotton 21 soybean and 62 corn events. Six cotton and one GE sugar beet application have been granted approval but are yet to be published. ZAMBIA LAUNCHES NATIONAL BIOSAFETY AUTHORITY The Zambian government has launched the National Biosafety Authority NBA whose core business is to regulate genetically modified organ- isms GMOs or products of GMOs in the country. The NBA is now fully functional in order to ensure that Zambia benefits from the safe applica- tion and use of modern biotechnology. Safety will now be ensured in the development use and handling of all gene modification technologies and products thereof because the NBA has put in place a system for notification and handling applications for permits and other key matters of biosafety says Minister of Higher Education Michael Kaingu. We are now on a clear path for the development of biotechnology. Our scientists are hard working to regulate and develop genetically modified crops and we now have the capacity to regulate them. EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 43 INDUSTRY NEWS TAILORED TO SEED PROFESSIONALS INDUSTRY NEWS DELIVERS THE PEOPLE RESEARCH BUSINESS AND PRODUCT NEWS YOU NEED TO KNOW. SUBMISSIONS ARE WELCOME. EMAIL US AT NEWSISSUESINK.COM. PEOPLE NEWS Gert Kema has been appointed Professor of Tropical Phytopathology at Wageningen University. Kema will study the interaction between tropical crops and pathogenic micro- organisms. Kema is currently researching the global problems of disease in bananas from various disciplines with a particular focus on genetic diversity and how it affects crop protection. He will be exploring the opportu- nities of this multidisciplinary approach for other crops particularly cacao and coffee. The chair Tropical Phytopathology will operate as part of the Laboratory of Phytopathology of Wageningen University headed by Bart Thomma. Kema will also continue working in the Business Unit Biointeractions Plant Health of Wageningen UR. DuPont Seed Treatment Enterprise fills two key posts within its global business to help propel continued growth. Matthew Mouw is named commercial unit director DuPont Seed Treatment Enterprise DSTE. He is responsible for representation and sale of DuPont seed treatment products to seed com- panies. Mouw will continue to manage select commercial relationships and foster integra- tion between DSTE and DuPont Biologicals Venture. His team includes regional business managers Marc Treurniet North America David Tassara Latin America Thierry Remy EMEA and Andrew Brown and Howard Liu Asia Pacific. Bryan Cheng has been named global portfolio manager DSTE. He will lead commercial launch and management of fungi- cide seed treatments. Advanta Seeds a leading international sup- plier of proprietary agricultural crop genetics and seed has added Jose Manuel Garcia as Business Manager Mexico. In his new role Garcia will be responsible for managing all aspects of the Advanta Seeds Mexico busi- ness. He will lead market intelligence compo- nents including market trends competitive landscape and product positioning as well as customer needs assessments. Garcia is also responsible for the coordination of all sales marketing planning and customer relation activities in Mexico with Advanta Seeds man- agement and field staff. Evogene Ltd. has appointed Eyal Leibovitz as chief financial officer. Leibovitz will replace Sigal Fattal who has been with the company since June 2012. Leibovitz will report to Ofer Haviv Evogenes president and CEO and will have executive responsibility for all corporate functions of the company. Leibovitz brings with him an extensive background in senior management finance investor relations MA and business development in international companies headquartered in both Israel and the United States. Paul Rea has been appointed as senior vice president of BASF Crop Protection North America. Rea started with the company in 2001 as national sales manager at BASF Australia. In 2004 he moved to the United States as a global marketing manager and held several positions of increasing responsibility including director of the U.S. Professional and Specialty Solutions division and vice president U.S. Crop Operations. Most recently Rea spent two years as the senior vice president Crop Protection Asia-Pacific in Singapore before returning to the U.S. Martin Petersen is joining SynTech Research as director global business devel- opment and sales. Petersen will be based at SynTechs global headquarters in Stilwell Kansas in the United States. Petersen has had a career lasting over 30 years in the ag-chemical business with Helena Chemical Bayer CropScience Gowan Co. and Cheminova FMC during which he has held senior management positions most recently as managing director of Cheminova in Germany Austria and Switzerland. He has wide international experience having worked in the U.S. Europe Brazil and South Africa during which time he has developed considerable knowledge of crop science business globally. DuPont has announced new executive leadership changes in order to stream- line the company for growth and simplify the organisation. James Collins execu- tive vice president will lead the DuPont Agriculture business segment. Marc Doyle has been named executive vice president and will lead the Electronics Communications Industrial Biosciences Nutrition Health Performance Materials and Safety Protection business segments. Richard C. Olson has been named senior vice president Corporate Services and will assume responsibility for the Safety Health Environment Operational Excellence Facility Services Real Estate Sourcing Logistics and Information Technology functions. Douglas Muzyka senior vice president and chief science and technology officer adds responsibility for Engineering Technologies and the companys regional leadership. In addition to the leadership changes James Borel executive vice presi- dent and Gary Spitzer senior vice president Integrated Operations and Engineering have elected to retire following 36 years of service with DuPont respectively effective in early 2016. 44 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM INDUSTRY NEWS BUSINESS NEWS Rijk Zwaan Hellas has taken over the sales activities previously handled by the Rijk Zwaan distributor Agrosystem. Rijk Zwaan expects this new subsidiary to enable it to respond to the needs of the Greek vegetable sector even more effectively. The management team of Rijk Zwaan Hellas comprises Christos Lavdas and Diamantis Tsiatouras both of whom have been working at Agrosystem for many years. The rest of the Agrosystem team are also transfer- ring to Rijk Zwaan where they will continue to put their valuable knowledge experience and network to good use to further develop the Greek agri-food sector. Rijk Zwaan Hellas is based in Irapetra on the island of Crete where it also has a trial station. SynTech Research has acquired Syngentas field and laboratory facility equipment and experienced seeds testing team of 12 staff located in Sem-ice in the northwest of the Czech Republic. This is the latest in a line of successful facility acquisitions in the U.S. the EU and Asia Pacific with major program contracts also in Latin America which bene- fit both organisations said Khosro Khodayari president and CEO of SynTech. The Sem-ice station and its team will greatly enhance our European capability as a part of our global strategy to expand seedstraits contract research. The location is ideal for programs relevant to the whole Central European region covering sugar beet corn cereals and oilseed rape the facility is equipped for sugar beet quality analysis and sample processing. The station will continue to deliver current seeds trials and will add programs from new custom- ers. The team will also deliver agrochemical GEP trials during the 20162017 season. The Biotechnology Industry Organization a biotech trade association representing bio- tech companies academic institutions state biotech centers and related organisations across 30 countries has changed its name to Biotechnology Innovation Organization. According to BIO the change of name better reflects the remarkable progress and ground- breaking innovations its members attain in healing fueling and feeding the world. Our members are some of the most innovative people on the planet. Biotech companies and research institutions are filled with scientists and entrepreneurs who see a different future. And then they innovate to change the course of history says BIO president and CEO Jim Greenwood. Everything we do is focused on improving the world we live in he added. DuPont and The Dow Chemical Company have approved a definitive agreement under which the companies will combine in an all- stock merger of equals according to a news release. The combined company will be named DowDuPont. The parties intend to subse- quently pursue a separation of DowDuPont into three independent publicly traded companies. This would occur as soon as feasible which is expected to be 18 to 24 months following the closing of the merger subject to regula- tory and board approval. The companies will include a leading global pure-play Agriculture company a leading global pure-play Material Science company and a leading technology and innovation-driven Specialty Products company. Each of the businesses will have clear focus an appropriate capital structure a distinct and compelling investment thesis scale advan- tages and focused investments in innovation to better deliver superior solutions and choices for customers according to the news release. Monsanto opens a new greenhouse facility in Njar Spain. The facility will be the first- of-its-kind for Monsantos vegetables business focused exclusively on the research devel- opment and testing of new hybrid rootstocks for tomato breeding. Rootstocks serve as the base for tomato crops in protected cultivation which are grafted onto the rootstock during the early nursery stage. This allows the plant to grow on a sturdy foundation and benefit from a strong root structure obtaining the neces- sary water and nutrition with better resistance to nematode roundworms and disease. The new facility will allow Monsanto to develop and screen more rootstock hybrids across a range of crop and testing environments to ensure the best new generation of rootstock varieties are available to growers across Europe. Monsantos goal is to increase its rootstock-development a significant and ambitious improvement to the speed at which Monsanto will be able to bring new varieties to market. Arcadia Biosciences and Dow AgroSciences collaborate to develop and commercialise new breakthrough yield traits and trait stacks in corn. The collaboration leverages Arcadias leading platform of abiotic stress traits with Dow AgroSciences enabling technology plat- forms input traits regulatory capabilities and commercial channels. Under the collaboration the companies will jointly develop and commer- cialise agronomic yield traits such as nutrient efficiency and water use efficiency including several traits which have already completed advanced field trials in corn conducted by Dow AgroSciences. These traits would then be combined with Dow AgroSciences input traits to create highly competitive trait stacks that maximise farmer revenue and efficiency. Developing crops with enhanced agronomic performance is technically difficult making relationships with companies like Arcadia important as we rise to the challenge and advance technology that will help meet the needs of the future says Daniel Kittle vice president Research and Development Dow AgroSciences. Vilmorin Cie has finalised the full take- over of Genica Research Corporation head- quartered in Dixon California. Specialised in research breeding production and distribu- tion by delegation of hybrid vegetable seeds Genica Research Corporation is focused on major crops sweet and hot peppers cucumber summer squash along with tomato eggplant melon and watermelon. It has operational sites in the United States California and Florida in Spain and in Italy and also several breed- ing stations within these geographical zones. Genica Research Corporation will integrate our operational organisation the American activities will join the HM.CLAUSE Business Unit and the European activities the Vilmorin Business Unit. Through this targeted external growth operation we will be able to strengthen our market shares considerably for key crops and territories says Emmanuel Rougier CEO Delegate of Vilmorin Cie. INDUSTRY NEWS The Inter nationa l W heat Genome Sequencing Consortium IWGSC has announced the production of a whole genome assembly of bread wheat the most widely grown cereal in the world sig- nificantly accelerating global research into crop improvement. The project consisted of producing a whole genome assembly of the bread wheat variety Chinese Spring based on Illumina short sequence reads assembled with NRGenes DeNovoMAGIC software. The public-private collaborative project is coor- dinated by the IWGSC and co-led by Nils Stein of IPK Gatersleben in Germany Curtis Pozniak of the University of Saskatchewans Crop Development Centre in Canada Andrew Sharpe of the Global Institute for Food Security in Canada and Jesse Poland of Kansas State University in the United States. Project partic- ipants also include researchers from Illumina Inc. NRGene in Israel and the United States Tel Aviv University in Israel and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research INRA. The new data will help speed up the delivery of a high quality reference sequence of the bread wheat genome. This new wheat genome sequence generated by the IWGSC and its partners is an important contribu- tion to understanding the genetic blueprint of one of the worlds most important crops says Pozniak. It will provide wheat research- ers with an exciting new resource to identify the most influential genes important to wheat adaptation stress response pest resistance and improved yield. Koppert Biological Systems recently laid the foundation stone for a sustainable build- ing in the Spanish town of Vcar and hopes to bring microbiological solutions closer to growers around the world. This building is much more than an economic investment. It represents Kopperts commitment to EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 45 agriculture and reflects our interest in work- ing side by side with farmers to improve the competitiveness and commercial value of their crops said Kopperts local Sales Director Valter Ceppi. Research into micro-organisms that are beneficial to agriculture will be one of the key activities to be developed at the new research and development centre. There will be a second laboratory for entomologi- cal research insects and an area devoted to quality control for all the biological products which Koppert sells in Spain. KeyGene has licensed its proprietary Sequence-Based Genotyping SBG meth- ods to Bayers new Crop Science division. Under the agreement Bayers Crop Science division obtains a non-exclusive licence for the in-house use of the SBG technology for crop improvement. SBG methods are highly cost-effective to identify and score thousands of DNA markers. The use of SBG accelerates genetic improvement of crops with novel traits thereby providing solutions to feed the world in a sustainable way. KeyGene is delighted with licensing its global SBG patent portfolio to Bayers Crop Science division an innovation-driven enterprise with competen- cies in the field of agriculture says Michiel van Eijk CSO of KeyGene. This licence agreement with Bayers Crop Science divi- sion supports our shared commitment to crop improvement and meeting the challenges of sustainable food supply. PRODUCT NEWS Seed enhancement company Incotec intro- duces its first seed technology for stevia seeds. The stevia plant is grown for its leaves which are used for making a natural zero-calorie sweetener. Incotecs new product not only increases the germination capacity of the seeds but also improves the growers production efficiency. Although Incotec has a broad portfolio of seed technologies for the enhancement of seed performance and yield this is their first product for stevia and they have indicated interest in developing other technologies for optimising stevia produc- tion. Stevia is a relatively new market and the demand for increased production in Europe is rapidly growing. This breakthrough is good news for stevia growers and only the first step. Incotec has several other solutions that could be developed for stevia and with feedback from the producers we can work together to get the most out of every harvest says Alexander van der Heiden Incotecs global commercial manager vegetables. Koppert Biological Systems has devel- oped a biostimulant for arable crops. The product contains a mix of plant growth pro- moting microorganisms. The application of Panoramix results in yield increase and increased nutritional value even at lower fertilisation rates. Koppert has developed Panoramix a concentrated liquid seed dress- ing especially for large arable crops such as maize and wheat. The product contains a mix of plant growth promoting microorgan- isms that are beneficial for the crop. These protect the seeds strengthen the seedling and promote growth and development of the root system and the fully-grown crop. Large yield increases have been measured in wheat and maize. The product soon pays for itself thanks to all the extra kilograms harvested. Seeds treated with Panoramix also show better plant emergence resulting in reduced additional sowing costs. The product also helps growers to make their production more sustainable. The crop is less susceptible to diseases so it requires fewer chemical crop protection products says Rick van der Pas product manager. Canary seed which has been used almost exclusively as bird seed has received novel food approval from Health Canada as well as GRAS Generally Recognised as Safe status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. With the achievement of this milestone were hopeful that the food industry and consumers will begin to adopt this nutri- tious high protein gluten free grain says Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan chair David Nobbs. Up until now production potential has been limited by the size of the market for birdseed. Canary seed flour can be used to make bread cook- ies cereals and pastas. Whole seeds can be used in nutrition bars and sprinkled on ham- burger buns in place of sesame seed. WEB AND APP NEWS Tozer Seeds Sends Seed to Space Station Tozer Seeds has donated 2kg of salad rocket seed to help the RHS and UK Space Agency conduct an experiment with thousands of schools. In September 2015 2kg of rocket seeds were flown to the International Space Station where they will orbit the Earth until March 2016 when they are due to return with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly. In April this year up to 10000 schools will grow and compare the seeds flown to space with seeds that have stayed on Earth as part of the nationwide experiment. Participating schools will receive a teaching pack containing a packet of seeds from space and a packet that have remained on Earth a booklet outlining the main exper- iment a poster to record results stickers and more. Following the experiment procedure pupils will embark on a 35-day voyage of discovery to find out what growing plants in space can teach us about life on Earth and whether we can sustain human life in space in the future. Results will be collected and ana- lysed by biostatisticians and published later in 2016 feeding into the real life work going on in space science research. Two additional suites of resources aimed at primary and sec- ondary aged pupils are available to download from the European Space Education Resource Office UK website to enhance learning around the issues of growing food in space nutrition and plant mutations. The RHS Campaign for School Gardening will be accepting appli- cations for Rocket Science until March 2016 when the seeds return to Earth. Find out more and sign up here schoolgardening. rhs.org.ukCompetitionsRocket-Science- Application-Form New Ways To Get Crop Disease Observations The latest disease observations from AHDB Cereals Oilseeds research sites can be accessed in a variety of ways beginning February 2016. The publication of monitor- ing information is part of AHDBs efforts to alert the industry to in-season disease pres- sures. We collect a vast amount of disease information from our variety and research site network across England and Scotland explains Jenna Watts. By sharing our obser- vations we can help flag up emerging issues such as regional disease hotspots or unantic- ipated disease pressures on resistant varie- ties. In 2015 disease observation data was published weekly along with timely updates from research projects assessing fusarium and sclerotinia infection risks on cereals. ahdb.org.ukmonitoring. Due to the success of the service the monitoring website will once again be popu- lated with regional disease-pressure informa- tion in 2016. In 2016 new platforms will also be exploited including disease observations posted to an Agronomy blog site hosted on cereals-blog.ahdb.org.uk. Essential disease information will also be sent to subscribers to a new disease alert email service. Weve modelled the alerts on the AHDB Aphid News which sends out aphid monitoring data regu- larly to over one thousand subscribers says Watts. People interested in receiving timely and topical disease monitoring information are asked to sign up to the alerts by emailing cereals.subscriptionsahdb.org.uk. Breaking disease developments will also be promoted over Twitter on the organisations dedicated feed AHDB_Cereals. TO SUBMIT YOUR INDUSTRY NEWS SEND YOUR PRESS RELEASES TO NEWSISSUESINK.COM 46 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM EXTRAS LICENSE TO FARM Consumers are more inter- ested than ever before in knowing where their food comes from how it was grown produced and processed and a new Canadian documentary film encourages farmers to step up and join the conversation. License to Farm which premiered January 2016 encourages farmers to talk about every aspect of their business from technology to food safety science to the environment. The 30-minute documentary presented by SaskCanola and produced by Berteig Imaging features conversations with farmers scien- tists professors consumers and environmentalists. Janice Tranberg Executive Director of SaskCanola says the docu- mentary project arose from the organisations mandate to support pro- ducers via advocacy and outreach. She says the project was ultimately the vision of the SaskCanola Board of Directors who are all producers themselves. We want License to Farm to kick off a genuine fact-based dialogue around the very important questions consumers have about 60 PER CENT OF EUROPE ENGAGED IN EUROPEAN BIOTECH WEEK EuropaBio recently announced the outcomes of European Biotech Week 2015. Created three years ago with the objective of fostering dialogue and information sharing in the scientifically complex and often misunderstood area of biotechnology the event also offers all stakeholders including industry academia public and private institutions as well as individual citizens the opportunity to dialogue raise awareness and debate about the science the products and the benefits that biotechnology brings in areas as diverse as healthcare agriculture food energy and industrial processing. According to Nathalie Moll EuropaBio secretary general this year saw a record 15 countries participating to organise over 100 events across Europe. Our members are committed to developing tools and solutions for some of the worlds main challenges and we have a responsibility to share what we know and to facilitate an open discussion among all stakeholders to accompany these developments. The 100 initiatives organised this year by a myriad of biotech associations universities cultural and research centres government institutions schools large and small biotech companies and science museums involved thousands of Europeans in a much needed effort to unravel the complexities of this revolutionary science and how it is harnessed for the benefit of society. All these events were also covered live on social media contributing to the success of the biotechweek campaign which reached nearly 17000 impressions and a 19 per cent growth in followers over two weeks and inspired new organisations to get involved. Shedding light on the outcomes of the European Biotech Week EuropaBio has also recently release a magazine which contains photos and short reports for each of the many events and initiatives that took place last year. You can find it online at www.biotechweek.org2015-biotech-week-magazine-now-online. STOP COLONY TRAFFICKING New findings from a study by University of California Berkeley and Exeter University biologists on the spread of the deformed wing virus which is affecting European honeybee colonies around the planet as well as wild bee populations point to human transport and trade of bees. The virus becomes a problem when carried by the Varroa mite that infests many European honeybees Apis melliferis. To determine the course and source of the viruss spread around the globe a UC Berkeley researcher Michael Boots professor of integrative biology collaborated with colleagues at Exeter University in the UK to analyze the genomes of viruses collected from around Europe Asia Australia and North America. They determined that most of the viruses can be traced to European honeybee colonies. The finding suggests that the pandemic is manmade rather than naturally occurring with human trade and transportation of bees for crop pollination driving the spread. The main spreaders are colony traders in Europe and North America the researchers found. To reduce the negative effects of the deformed wing virus on beekeeping and wild pollinators the researchers urge tighter controls such as the imposition of mandatory health screenings and regulated movement of honeybees across borders with every effort made to maintain the current Varroa-free refugia for the conservation of wild and managed pollinators. their food says Tranberg based in Saskatoon. We know that farmers have a lot to say about the ways in which innovation and progressive techniques in agriculture have allowed us to not only protect soil quality and reduce environmental impacts but produce an abundance of quality and nutritious food at the same time. Farmers cant let their silence take away their social license to farm. Joe Schwarcz Director at McGill Universitys Office for Science and Society says in the film that consumers are bombarded with information about food but much of it is simply not based in fact. These days when there is so much controversy about many nutritional issues and many farming issues people are confused and they dont know who to listen to he says. A lot of the activists who promote what I consider illegitimate fears about our food they do it very well. They come out with very romanticise arguments not scientifically based. Ian Epp a masters student at the University of Saskatchewan comments in the film how fewer Canadians today have a direct connection to farming and agriculture whereas a hundred years ago almost every Canadian lived on or near a farm. The vast majority of the population is so far removed from agriculture for the first time ever there is this huge disconnect Epp says. Closing the gap will take a concerted effort by both farmer and consumer to have a real conversation. The spread of the deformed wing virus over the past 80 years from Asian bees into European honeybee colonies and then around the world. EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 47 CALENDAR OF EVENTS EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 47 UPCOMING EVENTS CONFERENCES AND TRADE SHOWS IN YOUR REGION AND AROUND THE WORLD. SUBMISSIONS ARE WELCOME. EMAIL US AT NEWSISSUESINK.COM. 14-18 March UPOV Meetings Geneva Switzerland 15-18 May ISF World Seed Congress Punta del Este Uruguay 29 May-3 June International Sunflower Conference Edirne Turkey 6-10 June OECD Annual Meeting and Technical Working Group Paris France 15-21 June International Seed Testing Association Congress Tallinn Estonia 11-12 April UK PlantSci 2016 Norwich United Kingdom 48 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM GIANT VIEWS PUTTING INNOVATION AT THE HEART OF EUROPES AGRI-FOOD POLICY n May 2014 a group of 11 EU-level asso- ciations representing agricultural and food business interests across Europe presented their joint Vision for unlocking the potential of agriculture and food industries in the EU. The group calling itself the Agri-Food- Chain Coalition AFCC includes agricul- tural input industries such as suppliers of machinery seed fertilisers crop protection animal health feed and biotechnology-based products as well as the agricultural trade EU farmers and the European food and drink sector. Together these industries account for more than 30 million jobs and some 3.5 per cent of the EUs gross value added. The Joint Vision underlined the impor- tance of providing a secure and safe supply of food not only for EU citizens but also for those beyond Europes bordersand to do so in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. At the same time the coalition pointed to the economic weight of these sec- tors and with that their important relevance in achieving overarching EU policy goals such as higher employment and economic growth. In summary the joint vision is a common call for a more streamlined EU policy agenda that places the promotion of innovation for and in agriculture at its core in order to sus- tain healthy high-quality and affordable food production and resulting choice for consum- ers. More pointedly Europes Agri-Food Chain was calling for nothing less than an EU policy shift and it logically addressed the designated new European Commission and the freshly-elected European Parliament next to Member States governments with its call for change and action. So where are we today almost two years after the launch of the joint vision I Garlich von Essen I think it is fair to say that the initiative by and large has achieved quite a bit. First of all assembling 11 quite different EU-level industry organisations around a set of common policy objectives is a success that should not be overlooked. For the five years term of the EU institutions the AFCC defined seventeen specific policy recommendations that were submitted to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and cover the fostering of innovation jobs and productivity resource-ef- ficiency and better and smarter policymak- ing in order to ensure that innovation is at the heart of new EU agri-food policy. And indeed some progress has already been made. For example the recent decision to set up the new Scientific Advisory Mechanism SAM is an important indicator for a commit- ment to bring science back into a central role when taking new legislative action. Such a new mechanism will not only allow the Commission to take advantage of independent advice from eminent scientistsit also contains new administrative tools to scrutinize new legis- lative initiatives at an early stage which may impact on the EUs ability to innovate. This is vital for the competitiveness of our economy as a whole and specifically for the agri-food chain as it is our largest sector in terms of jobs and growth opportunities. Furthermore the designation of a special adviser on innovation is another signal that hopefully will result in concrete recommenda- tions and reports on how to best mobilise new and coordinate existing resources to stimulate and improve the innovation capacity of the EU. And last but not least there are the EUs budget with up to 3.6 billion euros ear- marked for research and development fund- ing under the EUs Horizon 2020 program and the Commissions long-term strategy for European agricultural research and innova- tion by 2020 and beyond which is supposed to act as an overall vision to keep agri-food industries thriving. The AFCC however sees a need to go beyond such individual actions. What is needed is a more fundamental change of mind-set to embed a pro-innovation attitude and con- sequent policy approach across all relevant societal groups as well as administrative and political levels. Today companies and farmers are often prevented from reaching their potential as an overly risk-averse policy approach dominates all EU-level debates and decisions. Recent examples include national opt- outs from authorisations of GM crops assessed as safe a rising number of restrictions on pes- ticides and biocides and ever-higher costs for product applications for veterinary medicines and feed and food additives due to increas- ing legal requirements compounded by strict threshold policies in the public and animal health areas. Numerous traceability and label- ling requirements not only create legal and economic burden they are often abused to stigmatise products and technologies. In many cases these policies do not address any prac- tical risk but they do delay or even prevent market access of new products. That creates crippling effects on our research capacity which is crumbling under an EU policy mantra that addresses consumer perceptions as opposed to consumer protection issues. As a consequence Europe is falling behind. This is underlined by the EUs declin- ing share of new agricultural patents as recently demonstrated by the EUs own Joint Research Centre. Just at a time when Europe is supposed to lead on climate change and other sustainability goals our research and inno- vation pipeline runs dry. The EU will fail the expectations of its citizens if it doesnt fully capitalise on technology-driven solutions avail- able to address global challenges. The AFCC shares the sense of urgency that our industries feel today. That is why we insist on the need for a truly integrated EU policy approach that favours the development of a comprehensive policy toolbox that fosters innovation across the agri-food chain allowing Europe to be more pro- ductive and more sustainable at the same time. Only then will we unlock the full potential of our innovation capacity and generate the desired benefits for farmers industries consumers and society at large. The Agri-Food Chain Coalition stands ready to work with all European institu- tions and stakeholders to ensure a competitive and sustainable Europe that turns todays chal- lenges into tomorrows opportunities. Editors Note Garlich von Essen is the secre- tary general of the European Seed Association and is currently chair of the European Agri- Food-Chain Coalition. AFCC is comprised of 11 EU-level associations from agricultural input industries such as suppliers of machinery CEMA seeds ESA fertilizers Fertilizers Europe crop protection ECPA animal health IFAH feed FEFAC and biotechnolo- gy-based products EuropaBio the agricul- tural trade COCERAL and CELCAA EU farmers COPA-COGECA and European food and drink manufacturing sector FDE. TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION ENGINEERING SERVICE www.petkus.com A fascinating world lies between harvest and processing. PETKUS is right at home in this world and has built its core competencies experience and product portfolio to service the needs of its customers. Our goal is not to improve the status quo but to completely redene it.