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“Boosting the organic sector by integrating breeding into value chain partnerships” workshop

"Boosting the organic sector by integrating breeding into value chain partnerships" workshop

FiBL workshop “Boosting the organic sector by integrating breeding into value chain partnerships” focused yesterday morning (13/02/2020) on how to foster and finance the breeding and the selection of organic varieties. It was organised with the collaboration of Eurofresh Distribution magazine, OPTA, Cotton Accelerator and Econatura.

Still less than 30% of organic crops come from organic seed & plants in Europe (less than 10% worldwide). Major changes shall happen by 2036 to fulfill with the new EU regulation.

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Workshop at BIOFACH2020: “Boosting the organic sector by integrating breeding into value chain partnerships”

Workshop at BIOFACH2020: “Boosting the organic sector by integrating breeding into value chain partnerships”

FIBL & EUROFRESH DISTRIBUTION are happy to invite you at BIOFACH2020 workshop: “Boosting the organic sector by integrating breeding into value chain partnerships”.

Date: 13.02.2020

Time: 11:00 – 11:45

Location: Room Prag, NCC Ost Mitte of Nuremberg

More info at:


It is organized by FiBL Europe within the launch in 2020 of the initiative “ENGAGEMENT.BIOBREEDING – Engagement of the organic value-chain to support Organic Breeding in Europe”.


This workshop will give the occasion to discuss potential models that allow a secure and stable funding for organic animal and plant breeding in Europe. Panel speakers are Pierre Escodo (editor of EUROFRESH DISTRIBUTION magazine), Bavo van den Idsert advisor at OPTA (Organic Processing and Trade Association Europe), Mathilde Tournebize program officer at the Organic Cotton Accelerator, Fabio Brescacin president of EconaturaSi, Mariateresa Lazzaro FIBL Plant Breeding program coordinator.


With this initiative, FIBL aims at integrating organic breeding into value-chain partnerships and sharing responsibility among breeders, farmers, processers, retailers, traders and consumers for upscaling organic breeding and ensuring future food security and quality.

FiBL Europe will offer a platform for promoting value-chain partnerships supporting organic animal and plant breeding in Europe for ensuring the integrity of organic products and strengthening consumer confidence.


Please register to our workshop at

For any further information you can also send an e-mail to

Source: Press release
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De Ruiter Seeds connects to market demands

During the open day on June 3 in its Tomato Experience Centre in ‘s-Gravenzande, De Ruiter Seeds showed its visitors as many as 350 different tomato varieties, mostly De Ruiter Seeds varieties.

During the open day on June 3 in its Tomato Experience Centre in ‘s-Gravenzande, De Ruiter Seeds showed its visitors as many as 350 different tomato varieties, mostly De Ruiter Seeds varieties.

“It offers the visitors the opportunity to compare results under similar growing conditions,” said Nico van Vliet, trade partnership manager for Benelux and Germany. Data was also shared on production progress and average weight.

Wageningen University analysed the tomatoes on taste and shelf life, resulting in exchangeable data.

The open day also offered the opportunity to share market trends with visitors. Van Vliet said the segment of tomatoes under 20 grams is growing, as is that of truss tomatoes above 100 grams, but the segments in between are having a hard time – unless it is a truly special tomato.

According to De Ruiter Seeds – where vegetable varieties are bred traditionally – tomato varieties that offer either cheap tomatoes or the best taste and presentation combination are currently in demand.

During the breeding process Monsanto focuses on an optimal connection to market demands.

Exclusive plums on the vine

With that in mind De Ruiter Seeds introduced Sevance, a tomato on the vine in the medium segment, that combines very good taste and colour with a high yield. It also has excellent resistance against IR mildew.

“In all segments we offer varieties with IR mildew resistance without compromising on other qualities,” Van Vliet said.


With the introduction of two new flavourful tomatoes, De Ruiter Seeds is also introducing a new segment. The DRTC 1003 and DRTC 2890 are mini and midi plum tomatoes on the vine.

“These are produced exclusively in North-West Europe and introduced in all of Europe,” Van Vliet said. With the fact that the plum tomatoes remain attached firmly to the vine throughout the shelf life, De Ruiter Seeds addresses a hidden frustration of the consumer and optimises customer satisfaction, thus stimulating repeat purchases.

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Green light for brown-resistant GMO mushroom

Researcher Yinong Yang used the gene-editing tool CRISPR–Cas9 to give white button mushrooms an anti-browning trait that improves appearance and shelf life, as well as facilitating automated mechanical harvesting.

A white button mushroom genetically modified so it turns brown more slowly – thus having a longer shelf life – is on track to being sold in the United States.

And the fact that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said it won’t regulate the mushroom as it does other genetically engineered (GE) modified organisms is seen as paving the way to the market for many more such products.

The anti-browning trait in this particular mushroom was introduced via science’s hot new tool CRISPR–Cas9, a promising but controversial gene-editing technique. Unlike some other forms of genetic modification, CRISPR does not introduce any foreign genetic material, it modifies pre-existing genes. In this case, Penn State University researcher Yinong Yang used it to provide an anti-browning trait that improves appearance and shelf life, as well as facilitating automated mechanical harvesting, in the common white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus).

In a letter to Dr Yang, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is responsible for regulating certain GE organisms that are or could be plant pests, noted the mushrooms don’t contain introduced genetic material and are unlikely to be plant pests and thus won’t be subject to this regulation. They may, however, be subject to control by other regulatory authorities such as the FDA or EPA, it said.

According to Billy Roberts from market intelligence agency Mintel, the mushrooms demonstrate the speed of advancements in the genetic modification arena, while also providing a serious challenge to regulatory agencies, and could change the GMO debate in the US. Roberts said research shows consumers want to know if foods have GM ingredients and significant numbers indicate that they seek GMO-free claims on foods they buy.

Read more about this issue:

Also see: Cucumbers that stay green longer

Image of Agaricus bisporus Zuchtchampignon by Böhringer Friedrich (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Cucumbers that stay green longer

The key to the improved fruit shelf life, is mutation of the “stay green gene” in the cucumber plant

Cucumbers which have a shelf life of up to 5 weeks – thanks to mutation induced in the cucumber plant’s DNA – are described in a patent application by Enza Zaden Beheer B.V.

According to documents recently published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), even if conventional cucumbers are wrapped in foil to extend their shelf life, they still turn yellow within 1-2 weeks. And while cooling extends the shelf life of some other fresh produce, low temperatures tend to cause chill injury when it comes to cucumbers.

But the Dutch plant breeding company says its invention involves a cucumber plant (Cucumis sativus) producing fruit that, under standard storage conditions, takes 4-5 weeks to turn yellow.

Once ripe and yellow, cucumbers are usually bitter and sour, which is why they are mainly eaten in their unripe green form, it says.

The key to the improved fruit shelf life is mutation of the “stay green gene” in the cucumber plant. The application says the mutation can be introduced by use of mutagenic chemicals such as ethyl methane sulfonate (EMS) or by irradiation of plant material with gamma rays or fast neutrons.

Compared to that in conventional cucumber plants, the expression of the stay green gene in the new plant, or the enzymatic activity of the protein which the gene encodes, is lower.

“In the research that led to the present invention, it was surprisingly found that a reduced expression of the present gene or a reduced enzymatic activity of the present protein provided fruits having an extended shelf life for a time period up to five weeks when stored under standard storing conditions for cucumbers,” the application says.

Source: WIPO, 1. (WO2016012346) STAY GREEN CUCUMBER PLANT:

Image: conventional cucumbers

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Patents sought for new IFG grapevine varieties

Screenshot 2014-12-03 at 17

Three new grapevine varieties are the subject of patent applications by International Fruit Genetics (IFG) CEO David Cain.

Based in Bakersfield, California, IFG has known exponential growth since the introduction of its first commercial table grape variety – still its main variety – the crispy red seedless Sweet Celebration. Today it has more than 20 registered varieties and its grapevines are grown in 11 different countries.


According to applications recently published by the US Patent and Trademark Office, IFG has applied for patents for three new black grape varieties:


Grapevine ‘IFG Fifteen’ is described as producing medium size, oval, completely black berries having medium firm texture and which ripen in early mid–season. While most similar to the Summer Royal variety, it differs by ripening about 1–2 weeks later, having a mild muscat flavour, smaller berries and a stronger stem, the application for this variety says.


Grapevine ‘IFG Sixteenproduces naturally large, ovate to slightly elongated ovate, black seedless berries which are medium firm in texture and ripen late in the growing season. Its fruits normally ripen mid to late September near Delano, California.

While most similar to its parent the Autumn Royal variety, its differences are said to include having a broader cluster shape, a much smaller residual seed trace, slightly softer flesh, no tendency to develop an astringent flavour, higher yields, better tolerance of rain during the ripening season, and more flexible and less brittle canes, thus reducing damage during pruning and other operations.


Grapevine ‘IFG Seventeenproduces naturally large, narrow elliptic, black seedless berries which are firm in texture and ripen late in the growing season.

Most similar to its parent the Autumn Royal variety, this new variety also differs by having a much smaller residual seed trace, no tendency to develop an astringent flavour and by its higher, more consistent yields.

It is also said to have better tolerance of rain during the ripening season, more flexible and less brittle canes, and berries that are smaller than the Autumn Royal variety but colour more easily.


Since 2001, IFG  has grown more than 75,000 grape seedlings. Every variety is tested for 3–7 years before release.

On its website, IFG says it is designing new varieties to fit the “niches” in the table grape industry, referring to coming ones as: “Exotic black grapes with Muscat flavors; crisp white grapes that burst like sweet liquid sunshine in your mouth; highly productive seedless grapes that are easier and less labor-intensive to produce.”





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New platform for licensing of plant breeding traits



No doubt sparking renewed debate over intellectual property rights and plants, the International Licensing Platform (ILP) was launched on Friday. Members of the new association say it aims to improve global access to and use of plant breeding traits for vegetables.


According to Greenhouse Canada, the participating companies include Agrisemen, Bayer, Bejo, Enza, Holland-Select, Limagrain Vegetable Seeds, Limgroup, Pop Vriend, Rijk Zwaan, Syngenta and Takii. A report by VILT, the Flemish information center for agriculture and horticulture, said the ILP will hold 60% of the world market of vegetable seeds in its hands.


A press release published by Netherlands-based hybrid seed specialist Nunhems, a subsidiary of Bayer CropScience, said 11 companies from Switzerland, Germany, Japan, France and the Netherlands, worked together to establish the ILP “with an aim to provide plant breeders around the world with faster, more efficient and cost effective, guaranteed access to crucial plant breeding traits that are currently covered by patent claims by ILP member companies.


“The ILP provides a straightforward, easy way for vegetable breeders to license the traits they need at a fair and reasonable cost so they can bring new products to the market that meet demands from growers and consumers. The members of the ILP will make all of their patents related to vegetable breeding traits accessible to their fellow members under the conditions of the ILP,” it said.


Monsanto said it applauded the initiative but is not a member. “We believe both the ILP and our new licensing program enable a technology exchange that will foster agricultural collaboration and innovation thereby increasing the variety and quality of vegetable seed products available to growers,” said Marlin Edwards, chief technology officer at Seminis, a vegetable seeds subsidiary of the company.