CCM: Debate over replacing current seed variety verification system with registration system 10-28-2016

Summary: According to the draft to the seed law in China, the number of crops that require verification has reduced from 28 to 5. There is a heated debate within the seed industry on whether to replace the seed variety verification system with a registration system. This article presents the different viewpoints.

 

Source: Internet


Although the National People’s Congress has stopped soliciting for opinions for the draft to the Seed Law of the People's Republic of China (Amendment), discussion about the new law is continuing, especially regarding the seed variety verification system reform.



According to the draft to the seed law, the number of crops that require verification has reduced from 28 to 5: rice, wheat, corn, cotton and soybean. For these, experts have different views. Some believe that the variety verification system must be canceled in order for the Chinese seed industry become market-oriented. Others, however, insinuate that this is not a good time to cancel the variety verification system.



Some insiders believe that the seed market is highly liberalized and that the modern seed industry evolved. Therefore, the disadvantages will outweigh advantages if China persists in variety verification system. 



Firstly, the variety verification system cannot fully reflect the market demand and it severely stifles seed enterprises’ initiative in developing seed varieties. Crop varieties that have been bred or improved by seed enterprises cannot enter the market if they are not verified, even if there is a market demand for these unverified crop varieties. This results in wasted effort and money, and discourages enterprises from innovating. Also, this prevents seed enterprises from fully implementing their variety strategies as planned, which impedes the development of the company.



Secondly, the variety verification system is not carried out in a proper and scientific manner during variety tests (the middle link in the variety verification procedure) and in the zoning of suitable planting areas for crop varieties.



Thirdly, the variety verification system is a breeding ground of corruption. Companies have been known to bribe officials in order to pass verification tests. This problem is deep-rooted.



Fourthly, the variety verification system has become a shelter for immoral seed enterprises to sell defective seeds. This is a severe side-effect of corruption.



Therefore, some insiders think that it is time to cancel the current variety verification system based on the premise that the protection for plant variety rights should be enhanced. They suggest adopting the international registration system which will focus on the specificity, conformity and stability of varieties, and the market-demand for authentic products. This would enable seed enterprises to innovate and to be proactive in variety research and development. Also, the international registration system would punish seed enterprises for selling defective seeds.



However, others believe that this is not the right time to cancel the variety verification system. They argue that the major crops play an important role in livelihoods and national interests. The variety verification is key to managing the major crops.



First of all, China’s seed market is relatively dispersed and seed enterprises do not have the ability to be responsible for their own varieties.



Secondly, most farmers cannot make the correct choices when faced with multiple varieties in the market.



Thirdly, a variety registration system has not yet been developed in China and it is too early to replace the variety verification system with a registration system. It is worth noting that some insiders who hold such opinions believe that the variety verification system is bound to be eliminated in the future and they think that it is still too early to cease the verification system.



Other insiders have proposed a gradual reform. Some think that a unified regional test and concentrated verification system for major crops should be introduced. Major crops only include corn, rice and wheat, and do not include soybean and cotton. This is because the planting area of soybean is small, and cotton planting is concentrated into a few provinces. Some suggest to initially have casual inspections conducted by verification institutes on seed enterprises, from which a registration system can gradually develop.



CCM believes that the variety verification system must be eliminated now. Seed variety is vital for a seed company’s development. However, the variety verification system has severely stifled seed companies’ initiative in developing new seed varieties. For example, in China, many seed companies are regional and the varieties they have bred only have good performance in their local areas and cannot be promoted to other regions. Almost all of these varieties cannot be verified. This results in wasted effort and money, and discourages enterprises from innovating.



Admittedly, all reforms will lead to market fluctuation to some extent, but law making must go ahead. If the variety verification system cannot be eliminated now, China’s seed industry will fall behind.

 

 

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