7 August 1998

Royalty retro risk?

WINTER oilseed rape growers hoping to avoid farm-saved seed royalties on several varieties left off the 1998/99 British Society of Plant Breeders list of eligible varieties run the risk of having to make retrospective payments.

Alpine, Meteor and Gazelle as well as newcomers Boston and Madrigal are all absent.

If glucosinolate levels allow seed from those varieties could be saved and sown royalty-free. But in practice any variety with European Rights protection comes under the wing of fss payments, explains Nigel Padbury of Novartis Seeds.

Applications for such rights on Alpine, Madrigal and Meteor were made last October. "My understanding is that once they are fulfilled royalties will be due retrospectively."

Roger Turner for the BSPB confirms fss payments are payable from the date variety rights are granted and could be backdated.

"As far as we are concerned we shall be looking to collect the royalties," says Mr Padbury. "We will be investigating how to do it."

One way of tracing users could be via seed lot numbers, which must be submitted to obtain area aid payments, suggests Frank Littlehales of mobile seed cleaner Re-So Seeds. The BSPB has the right to inspect mobile customer lists in cases of royalty disputes, he notes.

Jane Carmichael for breeder Danisco says European Rights protection was never sought for Gazelle because it is grown mainly in the north, where farm-saving opportunities are limited.

Falcon, becoming outclassed, is the only recommended conventional variety which may clearly be saved royalty-free, notes CPB Twyfords Theo Labuda.

&#8226 Growers saving seed from hybrids are breaking the law, unless they first obtain the permission of the breeder and pay the full royalty rate, stresses Mr Turner.

FARM-SAVED OSR

&#8226 Several varieties not on BSPB list.

&#8226 EU Rights protection awaited.

&#8226 Retrospective payments possible.