Objective 4 of the BDP Working Group International Markets for the Russian Federation

Prohibition of the use of farm saved seeds of hybrid varieties

Background

The "International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants - UPOV" defines international standards for national legislation on plant variety protection. As an optional exception members of UPOV may allow the use of farm saved seeds in their national legislation "within reasonable limits and subject to saveguarding of the legitimate interests of the breeder".

"Within reasonable limits" is widely interpreted as only for open pollinated varieties. For hybrid or synthetic varieties the use of farm saved seeds does not make sense as the plants grown from such seeds are substantially different from the initial variety. In legislation on plant variety protection in Germany and in the European Union, for instance, hybrid varieties and synthetic varieties are excluded from the possibility to use farm saved seeds of protected varieties.

Present situation in Russia

Russia is a member of UPOV and has ratified the most recent UPOV convention of 1991. Russia's legislation on plant variety protection allows the use of farm saved seeds for a number of agricultural species, for instance for rye, wheat and barley.

Innovative hybrid varieties of rye have recently been introduced into the Russian market. Hybrid varieties of wheat and barley are being developed and may be introduced to the Russian market in the near future. According to the present legislation farmers may use farm saved seeds of hybrid rye, wheat and barley varieties even though this is contrary to good agricultural practice. The use of farm saved seeds of hybrid varieties of rye leads to the content of the toxic ergot in the harvest material. This dangerous toxic causes losses for the farmers and additional costs for cleaning by the milling and feed industries.

Positions to be communicated

BDP proposes to introduce a distinction between open pollinated and hybrid (synthetic) varieties of rye, wheat and barley in Russian legislation on plant variety protection. For open pollinated varieties of rye, wheat and barley the use of farm saved seeds can stay possible "subject to the saveguarding of the legitimate interests of the breeder". For hybrid and synthetic varieties of rye, wheat and barley the use of farm saved seeds should be forbidden.

Possible lobbying partners

Main lobbying partner will be the National Union of Breeders and Seed. If German breeders are members of this association it will be helpful for our cause. In addition, the Russian Grain Union and milling industries (Union?) should be approached for support. Political support can also be asked from the German-Russian working group Agribusiness in the Committee on Eastern Affairs.

Next steps

With the help of the breeders' association the Agricultural Ministry of the Russian Federation can be approached directly as this is mainly a technical issue.

21st August 2013

Dieter Rücker