The pace at which producers are requesting protection for berry varieties, and the number of entities applying for these rights, are an indicator of the interest in genetics as an engine of the sector and the volume of investment that is made in this area.
A good example of the strength of the breeding sector is the new additions that the Rústicas del Guadalquivir company requested be made to the list of protected varieties in the EU. The company also holds the exclusive license for the rest of the countries of the European continent and the Mediterranean arc, including Morocco and Turkey, among others.
It's worth noting that the protection on the first varieties of this list continues to be in force, given that the protection has a validity of 35 years from the moment it is granted. The protection of the Snowchaser variety, widely distributed in Huelva, will be valid until the year 2040.
Rústicas del Guadalquivir has not granted multiplication licenses for any of its blueberry varieties. Thus, it is the only entity authorized to produce and market plants of the varieties on the list.
The plant produced and offered by another channel is, therefore, illegal. Producers that establish and cultivate plants that have been unlawfully multiplied can be charged with crimes against industrial property, typified in article 274.4 of the Penal Code; convictions can include imprisonment.
"The genetic profiling of the varieties in an official database allows identifying them in the fields from a sample taken from a single leaf, or from a fruit container in a supermarket shelf, which greatly facilitates detecting offenders," Rústicas del Guadalquivir stated.
This year, the Courts of the province of Huelva have fined several offenders and sentenced the to uproot their illegal crops and prison time. "Pirating varieties is a crime. Like any other violation of the law, it puts at risk the sector's credibility in the markets and it involves unfair competition with the rest of the sector.
"The vast majority of the sector is betting on Innovation, focusing on varietal development that materializes in different ways: having your own obtention programs, acquiring variety licenses, establishing varietal evaluation test fields, or participating in marketing groups of differentiated and high added value varieties. All this requires the sector to make great efforts and important investments. This highlights the importance of respecting plant-variety rights and the great value that the development of varieties brings to production as a whole.