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EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 33 almost any crop to grow in good conditions. Besides this France also has a solid agricultural environment good farming skills and there is political support. All these factors are securing high and stable crop yields and top seed quality. And as a result this has lead over the last 40 years to a specialization and concentration of investments in French RD labs in seed plants and various networks of excellence. However since the late 90s the recent EU policies turned the blue-sky story into a foggy future for agriculture in Europe. This started with the ban on the production of genetically modified crops followed with the suspicions and subsequent ban on some valuable seed treatment options and now the evaluation of the new plant breeding techniques. Fortunately UFS is expecting a better consideration of the benefits of plant breeding and high standard seed quality. Some recent reports such as the Agriculture and Innovation 2025 ordered by the French prime minister shed some positive light on new technologies and investments into seed breeding. UFS is happy to confirm that at high decision levels crop enhancement through better genetics will provide solutions to water scarcity climate change environment issues. This high-level realization might turn the seed sectors solutions into opportunities and better times can be foreseen. BEING PRACTICAL WHATS NEXT We obviously expect that the new plant breeding techniques will not be regulated in Europe as GM technologies without a scientific-based approach. We wish that existing IP tools will be handled differently as technologies and markets evolve. We need a European internal market with common rules without unnecessary administrative burden. We will benefit from stable and visible regulation as we want our country to remain the very place to set up seed investment in Europe and in the world we expect a balanced implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture that will allow plant breeding to deliver high-speed output. UFS firmly thinks that France will remain a diversified and high-performing agriculture country allowing its seed sector to grow. Seed companies investments in France have remained significant during this last decade showing confidence in a bright future where technology adoption and solutions brought by new varieties to consumers and to the society will put the seed sector and UFS at the heart of the game. UFS is happy to act towards accelerating this come back of agriculture and the seed sector and fostering solid markets for UFS members. INNOVATION IN THE FOCUS DURING ROYAL VISIT TO FRANCE France and The Netherlands have a shared responsibility for the future of agriculture and horticulture. This came to the forefront during the recent state visit of the Dutch King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima to France in mid-March where innovation took centre stage. Companies from both countries work closely together and the innovation that is brought into the sector are an important basis for food security for sustainable production and for product quality and diversity. In conjunction with this visit further cooperation between the seed sectors of both countries were discussed with the following topics Maintaining the good balance in the use of tools that are available to plant breeders to protect their intellectual property rights on new plant varieties or innovations The prevention of unjustified barriers with regards to access to genetic resources for plant breeding which are eminent through the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol for which the European Commission is currently drafting guidelines The prevention of unnecessary regulations for new plant breeding techniques. In case there are no specific risks for mankind or the environment such unjustified regulations would annihilate the great opportunities that these techniques offer to farmers and consumers A guaranteed access arranged by law to quality seeds for organic farmers at a moment where such rules are being discussed at EU level and Maintaining an open market and level playing field with identical rules for all plant health and seed treatments. French Minister of Agriculture Stephane Le Foll speaking at a recent UFS General Assembly. Eric Devon general manager UFS Rgis Fournier UFS president