This section is coordinated by professors from the Federal University of Pelotas - Brazil, with the objective of answering inquiries sent by thereaders.
I read your article “Packages for seeds” published in SEEDnews mar/apr 2003. I would like to know if there are rules concerning what has to be specified on the package about its content and product information?
Practically all seeds are marketed in packages of different kinds and sizes. The information to be on the package changes from country to country or from state to state. However, some may be considered essential, like name and address of the seed company, the weight, crop and variety, seed category and quality, like germination and purity. In general, the seed quality is informed through a label that may be glue or sewed on the package.
Increased crop productivity and quality is easily detected in the last years, probably due to variety protection in developing and creation of new varieties. My question is what kind of protection can be obtained for a new variety?
It is possible to obtain legal protection for a variety or hybrid by three ways: through 1978 and 1991 UPOV conventions and through patents. The protection by the 1978 UPOV convention is considered poor to protect the material. It protects only up to the seed and allows the farmer to keep its own material for sowing purposes without paying to the breeder. On the other side, protection through the 1991 UPOV convention is better, since it protects the material up to the commercial product; however the patent is thestrongest protection, because it doesn't allow the use of farmer's save seeds and the protection goes up to the commercial product, among other characteristics. We would like to emphasize that, even hybrids which have a natural protection, now and than are also protected, due to possible piracy of inbred lines and the possibility of production of synthetic seeds.
The productivity of hybrid corn is really undeniable, but I have heard that the production of seeds for these materials is low. Could you please comment about?
Taken as an example production of a singlecrossed corn hybrid, which involves two inbred lines, seed production rarely reaches 2t/ha, while after sowed, it produces easily more than 10t/ha. So, seed companies when develop their materials test, among other attributes, the look after for seed production capacity for seeds to have the lowest possible cost. Today, with a strong competition, the price of the seed may be the differential.
In the last SEEDnews edition it was shown a table with the number of accesses for edible bean, corn, wheat, rice and other crops, which surprised me by the number in each one, making me relax about the genetic variability within each crop. Would be possible to know what has been going on to not lose so valuable material?
The accesses, that represent about 2.500 seeds, are stored in germplasm banks in the countries; meanwhile, most of them are stored in germplasm banks maintained by International Agriculture Centers, which may be considered public. What deserves to be
registered is the world concern with the possibility of germplasm banks being damaged by terrorist actions or with difficulties of conservation due to extremely low temperatures that shall be used. For this purpose, the Swalbard islands at the North Pole, it has been allocated for germplasm storage, a local difficult to be reached and where the temperature is next to -10 oC all over the year. This place is known as Permafrost.
Accompanying the biggest advances in science and technology in the last years, I would like to know how are going the progresses in biotechnology to incorporate beneficial attributes to the seeds of new varieties.
Several are the research centers that are working on this, mainly with soybeans, where quality problems are notorious. The estimation is that in the middle term many materials will have a natural increase (physiological) in seed quality. In soybeans, there are advanced on going research about the incorporation of the hardness character in seeds, minimizing the field deterioration process.