Evaluating sustainability for registration in the French Official Catalogue
In the different European countries, the VCU (Value for Cultivation and Use) studies describe the cultivation value of the variety in the main soil and climate conditions that it will encounter in the country, as well as the use value of the harvested products from the variety.
In France, the main aim of the first government plan for Seeds and Sustainable Agriculture in 2011 was to strengthen the plant breeding sector’s contribution to the sustainability of agricultural production methods and environmental protection. This has resulted in a particular focus on variety evaluation in relation to environmental and growing conditions, and the addition of the S to VCUS, for sustainability value. The French VCUS evaluation system for agricultural species foreshadows the provisions relating to VSCU (Value for Sustainable Cultivation and Use) in the proposed PRM regulation published by the European Commission on 5 July 2023.
Under the French registration system, agricultural varieties of the same species are grouped together and evaluated at the same trial sites, using the same protocols. This ensures identical VCUS evaluation conditions for all the varieties under study. By pooling the experimental resources of the various partners, the official trial network managed by GEVES maximises the accuracy and reliability of the data, which is used to decide on registration in the official Catalogue or disseminated for use by the plant industry and farmers.
This means that all varieties of the same species are evaluated in a strictly identical way, which will no longer be the case for the varieties of applicants who would be authorised to produce their own evaluation data under official supervision in application of the draft PRM regulation.
In addition, it is possible to enhance the value of any varietal innovation (for example, tolerance to biotic and/or abiotic stresses) by means of optional tests, at the applicant’s request.