The Japanese Shine Muscat grape went through more than 15 years of testing and selection before it was finally released as a new breed. Frustratingly, the grape variety is now increasingly found in vineyards in South Korea and China, from where it is then sold at a lower price. In China, the breed is commonly available under the name Sunshine Rose, Shine Jade or Sunny King, selling at a third of the price of its Japanese original, or less.
The Japanese government, led by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga -- the son of a strawberry farmer in Akita Prefecture -- is moving to put a stop to such copycats. Last Friday, Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries released a list of 1,975 varieties of natively developed fruits and vegetables whose seeds and seedlings are banned from being taken out of the country.
This measure followed the partial implementation on April 1 of the amended Plant Variety Protection and Seed Act. The legislation aims to better safeguard intellectual property pertaining to new seed development.
Friday's list included a lot of Japan's premium fruits, vegetables and grains: Amao strawberries, Shine Muscat grapes, Yumepirika rice, Beniharuka sweet potatoes, Shinano Hope lettuce and Akikansen pears. As Japan is well-known for developing premium fruit and vegetable varieties, the country has good reason to take broad action to protect its valued seeds.
Photo source: Dreamstime.com