Legal Protection of Living Organisms from the Point of View of Scientists in Plant Breeding
Breeders produce a new line, or variety, or a hybrid plant of commercial value following an elaborated and long procedure. This involves all, or some, of the following steps: the spotting of the desired trait in Nature, attempts to introduce it into a plant which can be crossed with the plant species to be improved, and the actual introduction of the desired trait into the commercial variety. The production of a stable commercial variety takes many years of crossing, backcrossing (and/or selfing) and selection after each step. The final plant “product” is then protected legally by “Breeders’ Rights”. The plant is described phenotypically, and any deviation from the initial phenotypic determination in a plant produced by another breeder, will render this plant unprotected. Thus it is easy to circumvent Breeding Rights protection. As a safeguard, most breeders try to produce heterozygous plants carrying the trait of interest. The breeders do not disclose the identity of the parent plants, and since the offsprings of the hybrid will segregate, they are much less usable for the farmer, who comes back to the breeder for a new supply of seeds. However, it is relatively easy to “break” a hybrid and produce a variety, or another hybrid. Thus, practically, a real good hybrid would not be protected long.
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