Egypt’s new DNA laboratory to be ready for the 2024 table grape season

Cairo, 15 January 2024

Duncan Macintyre of The Breeders Alliance with Prof Saad Moussa, Head of Foreign Agricultural Relations and the Central Administration of Plant Quarantine, and Mr Elsayed Abbas, Technical Director of the Central Administration of Plant Quarantine, Egypt

Since acceding to the UPOV 91 treaty in 2019, Egypt has been implementing strong measures to fight Plant Breeders’ Rights infringements.

In 2021, Egypt’s Minister of Agriculture issued the Ministerial Decree No. 387, obliging farms and packhouses to be approved by the authorities and receive a code to be eligible to export grapes.

Months later, Egypt’s Central Administration for Plant Quarantine (CAPQ) also issued a decree, regulating the export process of table grapes. Farmers or packhouses that deal with protected varieties without a license, would risk losing the validity of their code, and hence be banned from exporting.

Starting with the coming 2024 grape season, CAPQ will start to use DNA testing to identify and stop suspected illegal shipments at source, whereas in previous seasons the breeders and rights holders had to rely on Customs Authorities in European ports to seize and destroy illegal shipments.

Mr Duncan Macintyre, President of The Breeders Alliance which represents all the major table grape breeders recently met with Undersecretary Prof. Saad Moussa, Supervisor of Foreign Agricultural Relations and the Central Administration of Plant Quarantine and Mr Elsayed Ahmed Abbas, Technical Director of Egyptian Plant Quarantine.

The Breeders Alliance have been assisting CAPQ to equip a new DNA Laboratory, and to organise staff training on the specifics of grape DNA fingerprinting. The Breeders Alliance is also organising the supply of the official DNA samples from all its members’ protected varieties so that CAPQ can set up its own reference database thus allowing it to quickly verify the authenticity of export consignments. This will apply to all varieties that are protected and registered at the Plant Protection Office at the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation.

Duncan Macintyre said “Egypt has proved that it is serious about stamping out IP infringements and preventing the export of unlicenced fruit. It now has both the legal framework and the technical resources to check export consignments and the penalty for infringing our members’ IP rights will be an export ban. We congratulate Prof Moussa and his team at CAPQ for taking these steps. Our members can now continue to invest with confidence in new high performance table grape varieties for the benefit of the Egyptian grape industry.”

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