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Protocol ties plant varieties to parent seed

06 Nov 2023 / environment Print

Protocol ties plant varieties to parent seed

The organisation which works to protect plant variety has welcomed a new protocol agreed in Geneva.

UPOV (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants) is an intergovernmental organization based in Switzerland.

It works to provide and promote an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging development of new varieties of plants, for societal benefit.
After four years of debate, the UPOV council, in its 57th Session on 27 October, adopted the new Explanatory Notes (EXN) on Essentially Derived Varieties, which replaced the EXN of 2017.

The revision process heard from:

  • International Seed Federation (ISF),
  • International Community of Breeders of Horticultural Varieties (CIOPORA),
  • Croplife International (CLI),
  • Euroseeds,
  • Seed Association of the Americas (SAA),
  • Asia and Pacific Seed Association (APSA) and,
  • African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA).

The new EXN clarifies that varieties with a single parent (mono-parental varieties) resulting from mutations, genetic modification or genome editing, are predominantly derived from their initial variety.

Additionally, there is no upper limit as to the number of differences which may result from the act of derivation.

The number of differences between an essentially-derived variety (EDV) and the initial variety is therefore not limited to one or very few differences but may vary considering different methods of derivation.


An important clarification in the adopted document is that the differences which result from the act of derivation may also include essential characteristics.

This means that in a case where a predominantly derived variety differs in one or more essential characteristics, it does not fall outside the EDV scope of the initial variety that was used in the creation of the derived variety.

The new protocol is in line with the understanding of the breeders’ community on the principle of EDV.

The breeders have asked all UPOV members to adapt their national Plant Breeder’s Rights legislation to this interpretation of the EDV principle, so that a consistent approach in respect of EDV will be established.

UPOV has said that it is fully available to collaborate during the adaptation or updating processes of the national legislations.

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