Restricted access to breeding material

There are three main issues, which are closely related. First, the unrestricted circulation of plant genetic resources is generally considered essential for the development of new plant varieties. This is recognized in the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), which sets up a system for facilitated access to plant genetic resources, and the UPOV system through its broad research exemption. Lange (1997), a defender of UPOV, argues that 'breeding (including genetic engineering) is always based on what already exists, requires a broad range of variability and demands the free use of material'. Moreover, 'since the purpose of plant variety protection is not to protect an invention, for instance a specific property in plant material, but the creation (including the discovery) of a new plant variety (that is to say a unique new "shuffled" genotype with a corresponding phenotypical expression) . . . there must be the continuing possibility of using the protected material of competitors to develop new varieties with a new and unique genotype (e.g. by crossing - that is to say a new "reshuffle"), without there being dependency'.

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