Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7
Page 8
Page 9
Page 10
Page 11
Page 12
Page 13
Page 14
Page 15
Page 16
Page 17
Page 18
Page 19
Page 20
Page 21
Page 22
Page 23
Page 24
Page 25
Page 26
Page 27
Page 28
Page 29
Page 30
Page 31
Page 32
Page 33
Page 34
Page 35
Page 36
Page 37
Page 38
Page 39
Page 40
Page 41
Page 42
Page 43
Page 44
22 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM nnovation is the driving force behind the seed sector. Companies that fail to invest in research and development are bound to end up at the tail end of the market very quickly. The European Seed Association estimates investment in RD at 15 per cent of the turnover on average whereas some companies manage to invest up to 30 per cent. A lot of innovation thus stems from company investment. However we shouldnt think we can do it all on our own. Governments are important for creating an environment that stimulates investment in research and to maintain a knowledge infrastructure that trains the next generation of bright in-company innovators who come up with breakthrough innovations. Innovation policies therefore play a crucial role in the development of a vibrant seed sector. Innovation policies may consist of several components the most important relate to tax incentives support for public research and the protection of intellectual property. Much has been written about the latter and a brief summary may suffice here plant breeders rights their efficient procedures and effective enforcement complemented by patent trademark and trade secret systems that are well aligned and balanced with breeders rights are crucial for an innovative seed sector. With regard to tax incentives a wide array of opportunities exist. Countries may have zero or reduced company tax levels PUBLIC INNOVATION POLICIES RELEVANT TO THE SEED SECTOR for income derived from breeders rights or other intellectual property. Others may make investments in RD infrastructure and or expenses for staff involved in RD tax deductible. Such measures are very relevant to our sector even though research managers sometimes complain they may not have a final say in the use of amounts thus saved. The third component warrants extra attention. Despite enormous investments in RD by private companies the public research infrastructure has proven to be a critical aspect to the success of the commercial seed sector. Various models exist in different countries. With regard to breeding in the public sector the United States and the Netherlands may be extremes. The United States has a history of plant breeding in the public sector spearheaded by the navy collecting potentially useful materials worldwide in the 19th century and testing and adapting those materials to U.S. conditions at land grant universities. Even nowthough the trend is fast declining in recent years variety development of most crops is still taking place at universities. Private breeding concentrates on some major field crops and vegetables. On the other hand in Europe plant breeding in the 19th century started in the private sector. The names of initial seed entrepreneurs still persist in todays seed business such as Vilmorin Desprez and Groot. Following that history the public sector in the Netherlands has explicitly avoided developing varieties in the public sector when private breeders are present. Instead the public sector concentrates on supporting private breeding through upstream breeding research. For example in the early 1980s carnation breeding was virtually dead because there was little to improve on the big red pink and white varieties. When the Institute for Horticultural Plant Breeding through interspecific crosses developed innovative multi-floral carnations with a wide diversity of colours it was not allowed to release finished varieties since some flower breeders were eager to step into this new range of products. The half-bred material was given to these breeders and they developed a thriving carnation breeding industry once again. This strict arrangement was to a large extent the result of excellent cooperation between the public and private sectors with representation of the private sector on the boards of public institutes. Actual plant breeding at Wageningen University is done on apples pears and new field crops such as quinoa and Crambe only. Currently public-private collaboration is the standard for research policies in the Netherlands and increasingly European Union policies as well. Public-private projects are excellent in applied and what the EU calls industrial research. However some negative consequences have been observed already. Where private contributions BY NIELS LOUWAARS