Plant Breeders Rights

Cally Gardens does not knowingly offer plants subject to Plant Breeder’s Rights and we will not apply for them on anything we introduce. This means that you are free to propagate for sale anything in our list without fear of prosecution, whether you are producing a few plants to sell locally or thousands to wholesale.

The reasons are:

(1) I believe that Nature should not be owned. Natural genetic material should be freely available to anybody with the energy and ingenuity to make use of it, as has always been the case, not the preserve of whoever manages to appropriate it first.

(2) The gardening public are being charged royalties for plant breeding that, in most cases, has never taken place. Most of these plants came up by chance or were collected in other countries; proof that breeding work has taken place is not required to get PBR’s.

(3) There are no enforced rules on labelling and many PBR plants are not labelled as such, even by wholesalers. PBR plants that are labelled often say, “Propagation Illegal”, which is untrue – it is propagation for sale that is prohibited.

(4) Worthy old garden varieties are likely to be dropped by PBR-orientated growers in favour of similar or even inferior ‘new’ones which attract a royalty.

(5) Some nurseries simply rename PBR plants to avoid the royalties; others rename old varieties to get PBR’s.

(6) Both of the PBR systems currently in force here (UK and EEC) are riddled with inconsistencies and dubious practice. We have experienced attempts to charge us royalties on plants that turned out to be non PBR.

(7) PBR’s are part of a global trend towards the patenting of the natural world which is interfering with, at one end of the spectrum, scientists who need to collect and freely exchange natural material for research, and, at the other end, subsistence farmers who can not now grow food varieties which they developed themselves over generations by selection, because these varieties have been appropriated and patented by western companies – and the farmers can not afford the royalties.

PBR’s are driven by the business community’s appetite for appropriating valuable natural assets, and governments that charge £1,000’s to maintain PBR’s for a few years on one variety, whilst failing to regulate the system for the protection of the public who end up paying for it all. There is no public debate and a shortage of information to base it on. A letter to your favourite gardening magazine, your MP, MEP or either of the following might help to get a discussion going:

Plant Variety Rights Office, White House Lane, Huntingdon Rd., Cambridge, CB3 OLF.
Community Plant Variety Office, PO Box 2141, 3 Boulevard Marechal Foch, F-49021 Angers, Cedex 02, France.

Michael Wickenden