Plant Breeders Rights and AusGAP
Plants Breeders Rights or PBR are an essential part of the agriculture industry. PBR grants exclusive commercial rights to a registered variety of plant. AusGAP understands that Plant Breeders Rights are an important part of the turf industry, and we talked to Matt Roche who is a Qualified Person for the PBR program and Director of Australian Sports Turf Consultants (ASTC) about what PBR means for the turf industry and how AusGAP is intertwined.
What are Plant Breeder’s Rights?
The commercial rights to a registered plant variety are a form of intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks, and designs. Plant breeder’s rights give the applicant, if successful, exclusive marketing rights to a registered plant variety for a 20-year period. These rights extend to the propagation of the material and also includes propagating material of essentially derived and dependent varieties.
What difference does Plant Breeder’s Rights make?
“If you went to 50 farms across Australia you could potentially see many different grasses being sold under the same name. Unlike for a PBR protected variety, that particular grass must be Distinct, Uniform and Stable (DUS) to meet PBR requirements and a pure sample that is true-to-type must be maintained in the Genetic Resource Centre (GRC) to ensure the purity of the grass variety is maintained. This means the PBR protected grass you are buying from one farm should technically be the same as the PBR variety being sold at another farm.”
What role does AusGAP play?
“There’s a support base there immediately, so from my perspective working alongside AusGAP and undertaking their third-party inspections provides the opportunity to promote the turfgrass industry and maintain or improve turf quality for the consumer.”
“I believe that AusGAP has set the bar in Australia to help improve turf quality. The industry always talks about turfgrass being sold as a cheap commodity or prices dropping so low. With new and improved PBR protected turf varieties, turf growers and breeders have the ability to increase their price per square meter, but the quality must be there too. There’s a lot of competition when it comes to pricing and turf varieties, so to get the optimum price per square meter the standard must be high. This is where the AusGAP system helps. I know consultants like myself had previously undertaken routine or annual farm inspections for older PBR grasses. But now with many newer protected varieties being grown across Australia, having a dedicated system in place provides greater opportunity to maintain the purity and quality of those grasses.”
With the time, research and development put into AusGAP certified turf varieties it makes sense for their rights to be protected. Not only is it protecting the rights of the turf variety but also the end user. By AusGAP auditing and monitoring the practices, expansion, and growing of certified turf varieties it maintains the genetic purity of those turfgrasses and ensures that the end-user knows what they are buying and having that enforcement from PBR scheme is important to the industry and the broader community.
Further information on PBR and trials can be found on ASTC’s website.