Ensuring genetic diversity
We aim to conserve the genetic diversity of the potato as a crop. This natural treasure will therefore also be available for future generations. Genetic diversity (differences in origin) is extremely important for the global food supply. As a breeding company, we must be able to anticipate the changing requirements associated with the cultivation of potatoes, as well as changing conditions.
New diseases and pests might come into play, the climate changes and the world population grows. The demand for sustainable products also increases and consumer needs change. The solution to new problems can sometimes be found in the properties of old varieties, in plants in other countries (in agricultural systems or outside them) or in gene banks.
We focus on:
- Supporting and collaborating with gene banks around the world
- Making it possible to use genetic material freely for further breeding (breeders' exemption)
- Complying with the Nagoya Protocol
- The development of new potato varieties in order to safeguard genetic diversity
Collaboration with gene banks
HZPC attaches considerable value to successful collaboration with gene banks. Sustainable collaboration can therefore take place with the most important sources of genetic diversity. We recently entered into a partnership with, among others, the Wageningen gene bank for conservation and evaluation and the SASA gene bank in Scotland.
Collaborative project with CIP in Peru
Since 2014, HZPC has been working with the CIP (International Potato Centre) in Peru. This organisation provides sustainable solutions to problems around the world such as hunger, poverty and the disappearance of natural raw materials. The project is focused on 'Benefit Sharing with custodian farmers'. These local growers work under poor conditions and often live in poverty. Benefit sharing means that local growers who cultivate landraces benefit more from their efforts.
Genetic sources and biodiversity form the parental material for plant breeding. In most cases, modern varieties are used as the genetic source for breeding. Wild relatives of cultivated crops and landraces are sometimes used. It is therefore extremely important for plant breeding purposes to have access to all genetic sources.
Plantum is the industry association for companies in the vegetative propagation material sector. Plantum formulated a standpoint to make it possible to use genetic material freely, for further breeding or breeders’ exemption.
This standpoint reads:
- Biological material protected by patent rights should be freely available for the development of new varieties.
- The use and exploitation of these new varieties should be free in accordance with the breeders' exemption laid down in the UPOV Convention.
- The aforementioned free availability, use and exploitation should not be obstructed in any way, either directly or indirectly, by the law on patents.
HZPC wholeheartedly supports the standpoint of Plantum with regard to the breeders’ exemption and is of the opinion that this should be applicable worldwide.
Compliance with rules on the use of genetic material: Nagoya Protocol and International Treaty
The Nagoya Protocol, signed by the European Commission, refers to genetic sources and the fair and ethical distribution of benefits that result from the use of these sources. It is the implementation protocol of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an international treaty. This treaty is linked to the national sovereignty of the countries where biological diversity has developed naturally. These countries therefore want reasonable compensation for access to and use of these genetic sources. The stipulations of the Nagoya Protocol are binding for the countries which have signed it.
The International Treaty is another protocol variant for compliance with the CBD. HZPC contributes to the Nagoya and International Treaty initiatives to support genetic resources in a structural way. A definitive agreement for this is still under development.