APBREBES report on the UPOV spring 2017 session


Several UPOV bodies and working groups met between 3rd and 7th April 2017. UPOV reports and documents of the session are available here. The meeting documents of two bodies , the Consultative Committee and the Working Group on a Possible International System of Cooperation, are not accessible to the public by UPOV. They are made publicly accessible here by APBREBES, thanks to the Freedom of Information legislation of UPOV member countries.

Interrelations with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA)

As a follow-up to the Symposium on Interrelations between UPOV and the ITPGRFA held in October 2016, members and observers had been invited to submit proposals on further actions on this subject. In addition to several member countries, the International Seed Federation, the European Seed Association and APBREBES had submitted proposals. The submissions are available from UPOV document CC/93/5.

The Consultative Committee (CC) agreed to postpone considerations on this item until its ninety-fourth session in autumn 2017, due to insufficient time. Prior to the session, APBREBES had presented a request to present a statement and participate in the entire discussion of this agenda item. The CC considered the request, and agreed to invite APBREBES and other observers that had presented submission to present their statement. However, the CC agreed that observers could not be present during the deliberations within the CC. (see C(Extr.)/34/3, para 33-35).

International System of Cooperation

In its 2016 autumn session, the Council had agreed to establish a Working Group on a Possible International System of Cooperation (WG-ISC). The WG-ISC held its second meeting in Geneva on April 5, 2017 (see para 16 of C(Extr.)/34/3) and the Vice-General Secretary of UPOV, Peter Button, shared the main outcomes of the meeting with the CC.

Several members of the WG-ISC have questioned the need for an International System of Cooperation, and called for a better overview of existing cooperation mechanisms within UPOV. The WG-ISC agreed that its third meeting, to be held during in the 2017 autumn session, should focus on existing cooperation mechanisms, including possible limitations, as well as the experiences of the PVP offices. DUS Examination, Novelty, Priority and Cooperation on administrative matters should be included in the presentations.


Explanatory Notes on Propagating Material under the UPOV Convention

The Council adopted an amendment to the document UPOV/EXN/PPM/1 “Explanatory Notes on Propagating Material under the UPOV Convention”. The amendment clarifies that the list of factors that should be considered in relation to the propagating material should not be understood as an intention to define propagating material. The additional text, which reads “The above text is not intended as a definition of ‘propagating material’, is a negative response to CIOPORA’s request made in 2013 and reiterated at the Seminar on Harvesting and Propagating Material in 2016  to harmonize national definitions of propagating material. CIOPORA is the International Community of Breeders of Asexually Reproduced Ornamentals and Fruit Plants. APBREBES has previously in a statement pointed to the inconsistencies of a harmonized definition with UPOV 1978 and UPOV 1991. Also the survey provided by industry at that time on national definitions of 'propagating material' covered only about half of the UPOV membership.

The full text with amendment now reads as follows:

“Factors that HAVE BEEN considered in relation to propagating material

The UPOV Convention does not provide a definition of “propagating material”.  Propagating material encompasses reproductive and vegetative propagating material.  The following are non-exhaustive examples of factors that have been considered by members of the Union in relation to whether material is propagating material.  Those factors should be considered in the context of each member of the Union and the particular circumstances.

(i)               plant or part of plants used for the variety reproduction;

(ii)              whether the material has been or may be used to propagate the variety;

(iii)             whether the material is capable of producing entire plants of the variety;

(iv)             whether there has been a custom/practice of using the material for propagating purposes or, as a result of new developments, there is a new custom/practice of using the material for that purpose;

(v)              the intention on the part of those concerned (producer, seller, supplier, buyer, recipient, user);

(vi)             if, based on the nature and condition of the material and/or the form of its use, it can be determined that the material is “propagating material”; or

(vii)            the variety material where conditions and mode of its production meet the purpose of reproduction of new plants of the variety but not of final consumption.

The above text is not intended as a definition of ‘propagating material'.”

The Council welcomed an external publication on impact assessment

Probably for the first time in its history, the UPOV Council welcomed an external publication and distributed it via press release.  The publication of “The socio-economic benefits of UPOV membership in Viet Nam; An ex post assessment on plant breeding and agricultural productivity after 10 years” (Corresponding author: Steffen Noleppa) by HFFA Research GmbH, a German company, was presented to the Consultative Committee.

UPOV had published an own impact assessment report in 2005.

Civil society organisations had published a Human Rights Impact Assessment of UPOV1991 report in 2014. The full report with the title «Owning seeds, accessing food» is available in English and Spanish and a short Factsheet is available in English, Spanish, French and German.

It points out that the national examples in the UPOV study were an impact assessment of UPOV1978, but not of UPOV1991.

The Consultative Committee at its 90th meeting in autumn 2015 requested the UPOV Office to present a proposal for developing an updated version of the Impact Study for consideration at its 92nd session. At its 93rd session in autumn 2016 the CC had concluded that UPOV had no means to do own impact assessments.