International plant variety experts to visit Finland in June


<p>In June, the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira is organising a meeting in Helsinki of the Technical Working Party for Automation and Computer Programs of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants. The meeting will be attended by participants from 14 countries, the most distant from Japan, South Korea and Brazil.</p>

The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) maintains a system that helps breeders obtain plant breeder’s rights for the plant variety they have developed. The breeders can charge a plant breeding fee for use of their varieties. Thus, the system encourages breeders to develop new varieties, benefiting both growers, industry and consumers.

Its current membership is 71 countries, and Finland has been a member since 1993.

A substantial part of UPOV’s work is done by Working Parties that meet annually. The Technical Working Party meeting was last held in Finland in 1999. The chairman of the Party in 2012-14 is Senior Inspector Sami Markkanen from Evira.

Technical Working Party develops variety research methods

A new plant variety must be approved as an independent cultivar before it can be accepted in official variety lists. The variety must be distinct from other varieties, it must have uniform characteristics, and its characteristics must be stable. These characteristics are assessed in Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability or DUS testing, which is carried out under UPOV guidelines.  

“The Technical Working Party provides tools for the DUS testing of a new plant variety. One of the subjects for investigation by the Working Party is the use of field computers in DUS testing,” says Senior Inspector Sami Markkanen from Evira.

Among the activities of the Technical Working Party are development of new testing methods, evaluation and application of statistical methods suitable for testing, and development of management methods of databases used in testing. The use of image analysis in, for example, automated measuring of plant parts is another one of the Working Party’s areas of interest.

Evira showcases Finnish variety testing in Loimaa

The DUS testing of the most commonly grown field crops in Finland is carried out at Evira's Seed Certification Unit in Loimaa. The testing of other plant species is done with the help of the testing institutions of other UPOV member states.

The agenda of the meeting in Finland includes such items as testing for uniformity of cross-pollinating plant species and analysis of the properties of computer software suitable for DUS testing. During the meeting, a visit will be made to Evira’s Loimaa station, to study variety testing in the greenhouse and test field.


Further information:
Senior Officer Sami Markkanen, t. +358 (0)40 8294543
Head of Section Kaarina Paavilainen, t. +358 (0)40 8332480
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