"The fight against the counterfeiting of protected plant varieties is a difficult battle, but necessary for public health, food safety, and the economy," said the Aib, the Anti-Infringement Bureau for Intellectual Property Rights on Plant Material.
The owner of a local farm in Ragusa, Sicily, illegally duplicated 5,000 thousands of tomato seedlings they purchased from a well-known Dutch producer. After the authority was informed, the illegal cuttings were seized during an inspection by officials of the Ministry of Agriculture (Icqrf).
The owner of the farm, while admitting the fact, defended herself by claiming that her actions were in good faith, and she wasn't aware of the seriousness of the crime as her sole intent was to use those tomatoes for personal consumption. In reality, around 15 tonnes of tomato sauce could have been produced out of the 5,000 irregular plants - approximately 3,000 bottles.
However, the public prosecutor who ordered the destruction of the plants asked the judge to dismiss the case due to its "particular tenuousness." The request for dismissal has been opposed by both the Dutch manufacturer and Aib. "The person responsible – they claim – was perfectly aware of the offense committed." The judge accepted the prosecutor's request because the suspect had no criminal record and also because it was impossible to estimate the extent of the damage to the manufacturer. "It is a decision that we respect but which does not convince us – states the managing director of Aib Brussels, Ignacio Giacchi. "We are concerned about the impact on the economic sector. We reluctantly find, in certain areas of Italy, a persistent lack of sensitivity on issues of vital importance."