Pillar 2 - Contribution to food security

Care of genetic resources

Ensuring genetic diversity

We aim to conserve the genetic diversity of the potato as a crop. This natural treasure will therefore also be available for future generations.

Genetic diversity (differences in origin) is extremely important for the global food supply. As a breeding company, we must be able to anticipate the changing requirements associated with the cultivation of potatoes, as well as changing conditions.

New diseases and pests might come into play, the climate changes and the world population grows. The demand for sustainable products also increases and consumer needs change. The solution to new problems can sometimes be found in the properties of old varieties, in plants in other countries (in agricultural systems or outside them) or in gene banks.

We focus on:

  • Supporting and collaborating with gene banks around the world
  • Making it possible to use genetic material freely for further breeding (breeders' exemption)
  • Complying with the Nagoya Protocol
  • The development of new potato varieties in order to safeguard genetic diversity

Working responsibly with genetic material: collaborating with gene banks

HZPC attaches considerable value to successful collaboration with gene banks. Sustainable collaboration can therefore take place with the most important sources of genetic diversity. We use collections that are present in gene banks in the Netherlands and Germany.

Collaboration with CIP and benefit sharing in Peru

HZPC started collaborating with the CIP (International Potato Centre) in Peru in 2014. This organisation provides sustainable solutions to problems around the world such as hunger, poverty and the disappearance of natural raw materials. The joint project serves to support the conservation of genetic diversity with the associated benefit sharing. To start with, the project will run for 3 years.

Read more about the project

Breeders' exemption

Genetic sources and biodiversity form the parental material for plant breeding. In most cases, modern varieties are used as the genetic source for breeding. Wild relatives of cultivated crops and landraces* are sometimes used. It is therefore extremely important for plant breeding purposes to have access to all genetic sources.

Plantum is the Dutch industry association for companies in the vegetative propagation material sector. Plantum formulated a standpoint to make it possible to use genetic material freely for further breeding or breeders' exemption.

This standpoint reads:

  1. Biological material protected by patent rights should be freely available for the development of new varieties.
  2. The use and exploitation of these new varieties should be free in accordance with the breeders' exemption laid down in the UPOV Convention.
  3. The aforementioned free availability, use and exploitation should not be obstructed in any way, either directly or indirectly, by the law on patents.

HZPC wholeheartedly supports the standpoint of Plantum with regard to the breeders' exemption and is of the opinion that this should be applicable worldwide.

Complying with the Nagoya Protocol

The Nagoya Protocol refers to genetic sources and the fair and ethical distribution of benefits which result from the use of these sources. It is based on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an international treaty. This treaty is linked to the national sovereignty of the countries where biological diversity has developed naturally. In short it comes down to the fact that these countries are more aware of their biodiversity than ever before and that they therefore wish for reasonable compensation for access to and use of these genetic sources. The protocol is thus focused on obtaining a transparent legal framework for access and breeding of the benefits in order to encourage observance by both suppliers and users of genetic sources. The stipulations of the Nagoya Protocol are binding for the countries which have signed it. The Nagoya Protocol is applicable for HZPC as a company located in the EU.

Developing new potato varieties

HZPC wants to add 5 new varieties to the catalogue of varieties each year. The following HZPC and Stet varieties were included during recent years:

Year 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015

Number of varieties
included in the
catalogue of varieties

5 12 8 7
Names Celandine Blue Star Avanti Carminella
  Flamenco Gioconda Baby Rose Farida
  Memphis Magenta love Briosa Iryna
  Kastelli Navigator Dirosso Jennifer
  Sultana Orlena Double Fun Noblesse
    Sunita Fortus Primabelle
    Talentine Heraclea Rosi
    Violet Queen Panamera  

* Not in 2014 Sustainability Report