[NAFEX] Availability of grafting wood from government repositories

Michael Dossett phainopepla at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 2 19:12:51 EDT 2010

Interesting.  I know that the treaty has been a bit of a bone of contention with the USDA and other countries (e.g. China), simply *because* the USDA NPGS does not charge, and gives access to its collections openly and freely.  With China, the situation is that USDA scientists cannot get permits to collect in China and bring back material because China wants to restrict access to material that originated in their country.  The feel that if someone develops something valuable from germplasm in their country that they should get some compensation, rather than just giving it to anyone who asks.  If USDA signed MTAs with China restricting access to those materials and ensuring this, they would then be allowed to collect there.  It sounds like with everyone heading in that direction it may become even more difficult to share germplasm in the future :-(


Michael Dossett

Corvallis, Oregon


phainopepla at yahoo.com

--- On Fri, 4/2/10, david.maxwell at dal.ca <david.maxwell at dal.ca> wrote:

From: david.maxwell at dal.ca <david.maxwell at dal.ca>
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Availability of grafting wood from government repositories
To: "Clifford Cain - uk yahoo" <cc_syorks at yahoo.co.uk>, nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
Date: Friday, April 2, 2010, 3:33 PM

My official did indeed cite the International Treaty as justification for his position.  I have 
responded to him that this very treaty mandates provision of germplasm to the amateur 
group, (at least if it is not available commercially),  insofar as the wording is:

 " The Treaty aims at:

# recognizing the enormous contribution of farmers to the diversity of crops that feed the 
# establishing a global system to provide farmers,(my emphasis), plant breeders and 
scientists with access to plant genetic materials;

He has not responded as yet.  Unfortunately I am not sure the background in our case is as 
simple as a bureaucratic interpretation of the wording of a treaty, and I am not sure that 
rational argument is going to carry any weight.  Interestingly the Canadian authorities 
required that I sign a Standard Material Transfer Agreement, but seemed to regard this as 
nothing more than a bureaucratic formality, rather than a real obstacle.

> Concerning David's encounter with officialdom, I regret to inform him that the situation is similar 
> here in the UK.
> My take on is that it stems from a desire to raise monies, akin to plant breeders rights, to fund 
> projects. Their take is that it is a result of supporting "the International Treaty on Plant Genetic 
> Resources for Food and Agriculture" ( details being found at http://www.planttreaty.org ) resulting 
> in the establishment of a piece of legalese the Standard Material Transfer Agreement.
> I have been in the process of developing a 300 apple cultivar collection which was to be grown at 
> three sites, three trees being grafted from one piece of graftwood, in order to remove scion wood 
> variation. At the moment the project is stalled as I am not able to sign up to the long list of 
> conditions.
> As the collections, here in the UK, and I am sure in many other parts of the world, are government 
> funded, it does seem a shame that they have found a way to stop amateur growers propagating 
> trees and going on to breed new cultivars. Especially considering that many heritage cultivars 
> are either chance seedlings or the result of keen amateurs breeding efforts.
> My hopes are that this is a new programme and the authorities are feeling their way through it. My 
> hope is that common sense will prevail. Or is that just a pipe dream?
> Clifford Cain
> Doncaster, UK
> Where pears are starting to break bud


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