“INTELECTUAL PROPERTY AND BIOLOGICAL PROGRESS IN AGRICULTURAL PLANT BREEDING”
The farmers associate the legal protection of plant varieties mostly with FSS fees. They treat regulations arising from the Act of 26 June 2003 on the Legal Protection of Plant Varieties as necessary evil and a kind of additional tax. Whereas, making their settlements with the breeders honestly, the farmers encourage biological progress.
Breeder – discoverer
Plant breeding is a business governed by the same economic rules as the other types of enterprises, but there is also a room for passion. It could be said that, in his own way, an agricultural plant breeder is a discoverer. Exploring the genetic structure of a given plant, the breeders are searching for methods to improve its qualities to get more productive and better variety. Beside the works on new plant varieties, the breeders also take care of the maintenance breeding of existing varieties, producing basic seed that is the most appropriate to the variety standard.
Running an agricultural plant breeding is not cheap. To get quantifiable outcomes, a breeder shall be rich equipped with technical facilities, e.g. specialist laboratories and research equipment, suitable conditions for quick vegetation of plants, high-skilled team of employees and access to the plant genetic resources. Recovering of financial resources of several million zlotys, invested in works on a new plant variety, usually takes a breeder at least 3 years. It should be emphasized that the biggest attractiveness of a variety on the market averaging about 5 years; later this popularity is decreasing because buyers are looking for another new variety.
The genius of a breeder is not just in creating the largest possible number of varieties but in creating the largest possible number of sought varieties. He shall foresee requirements of the market earlier than buyers; moreover, he shall meet these requirements. Such breeder can win the market – and the market will compensate his research work and provide funds for further innovations.
Legal protection – the essence of innovativeness
How does the legal protection of plant varieties relate to creating new plant varieties? Simplistically, it could be said that protection of the breeders’ exclusive right to the varieties is the essence of innovativeness. The money raised from royalties and FSS fees provides a significant contribution to the further development of an agricultural plant breeding company, necessary to carry out the research work on new varieties. Without these funds biological progress is impossible.
The fees for using the protected varieties of agricultural plants are also a kind of the voice of farmers that influences shaping the profile of plant breeding company. The holders of agricultural land choose and cultivate the varieties, which meet their expectations, so they are the best. This way they invest in development of the chosen varieties and plant breeding companies, and provide guidance to the breeders how to manage their intellectual property more efficient.
The principles of the market build a strong agricultural plant breeding company and the farmers as consumers also play their part in this process. Using the protected varieties of agricultural plants in accordance with law, the farmers guide the development of breeding companies and stimulate it in a significant way. In return they receive possibility to enjoy a wide offer of new plant varieties, more relevant to the needs of a given farm and the environment of plants cultivation.
(this article was published in print in the agricultural press several times in the years 2012-2015)