EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 19 certainty that the varieties that enter the market perform well” says Ekvad. “However, costs for such tests are con- stantly increasing. Such costs are born partly by the industry and partly by EU Member States that subsidise variety testing. Accordingly, it is in the interest of all that variety testing is carried out in efficient manners.” The size of reference collections for the assessment of DUS is continuously increasing, which urges examination offices to find new strategies to control the size and cost of the trials. Ekvad: “Moreover, the necessity to adapt variety testing to new characteristics (e.g. traits relevant to sustainability and resilience), new requirements (e.g. resistance to pests and abiotic stresses in a context of reduc- tion of inputs) and new agricultural prac- tices (e.g. heterogeneity thresholds for alternative materials) makes the invest- ments of the EU into research projects on these subjects absolutely essential.” FINANCIAL MOTIVATIONS CPVO’s motivation to join the project was mainly a financial one says Weitz. “CPVO has an R&D Strategy aimed at increasing the quality of DUS, reducing costs, reduc- ing duration by creating, where useful and possible, shared databases for refer- ence collections and by integrating the use of biomolecular techniques (BMT) for the management of reference collections, for variety identification, and for enforce- ment (in collaboration with breeders).” Weitz, who is also Project Manager of the CPVO IMODDUS1 working group, contin- ues: “The development of BMT adapted to variety testing is supported by the IMODDUS ad hoc group which identifies research needs and evaluates proposals submitted in the framework of the CPVO R&D annual procedure.” Ekvad explains that the CPVO annual budget for R&D projects is 500,000 € which allows important projects to be launched. “However, the budget is not sufficient to engage in larger projects, for instance the setting up of comprehensive data bases which include phenotypical as well as genetic data on a large amount of varieties for certain species. Joining INVITE was considered as a good oppor- tunity to increase substantially the funds for the work to be carried out by variety testing actors.” ACTIVE PLAYER Collonnier shares that the second strong motivation of CPVO was to participate as an active player to the implementation of R&D objectives through the definition of the research tasks proposed in INVITE. “Particular importance was given to the choice of model species (covering the dif- ferent types of propagation), to the needs for DUS testing in terms of practicability and efficiency (e.g. management of large reference collections, measuring of the whole collection in the field for the uni- formity assessment in cross pollinated species, distinctness problems in certain species such as apple), and to the needs of breeders (confidentiality issues such as hybrid formulas, status and exchange of plant material, enforcement issues, vari- ety identification along the value chain of a variety).” Ekvad indicates that the role of the CPVO is to bring its experience and knowledge acquired from managing the EU DUS testing network into INVITE. “The CPVO has gained a lot of experience in the past 24 years in the ways varieties are tested, the technical challenges it represents and the approaches for har- monization of variety assessment and decision rules in relation to DUS.” As the technical protocols adopted by the CPVO are applicable for the DUS tests of a vari- ety both for protection and for marketing authorization, CPVO’s contributions will be valuable for many aspects covered by INVITE. “The CPVO is represented in the INVITE Executive Committee which is the decision implementing body of the project. CPVO will contribute to the dis- cussion in all the eight technical Work Packages identified in the project. The project will require input from many CPVO experts, and my colleague Cécile Collonnier will be the CPVO staff member who will manage INVITE internally,” he says. “She is also the co-leader of Work Package 5 on testing the tools developed for application in DUS and performance testing. The CPVO will also contribute to Martin Ekvad Anne Weitz Cécile Collonnier