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Thursday, February 22, 2018

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Penalties ‘may not be tough enough'

Posted at 6:47am Friday 22 Sep, 2017 | By Elaine Fisher

Penalties imposed against the grower who allegedly provided bud wood from two new Zespri kiwifruit varieties to Chinese orchards may not be tough enough, says Doug Brown, chairman of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc.

Zespri has terminated the grower’s licence and will remove all SunGold plant material from their orchard; moves which will result in losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars now and into the future.

“The penalties are tough and financially significant. They will be very costly for the grower, given that Zespri is predicting an average orchard gate return of $100,000 a hectare.”

If the grower remains in the industry the only option is to grow green kiwifruit, which returns a lower OGR than new varieties.

“If the actions as alleged are proven to be true, then perhaps the penalties are not tough enough,” Doug says.

Despite the fact Zespri has taken action against a grower, no criminal charges have been made and police and Zespri are calling for the public’s help in providing information which could lead to a prosecution.

This follows the discovery last year that Zespri’s gold kiwifruit varietiesGold3 (Zespri SunGold) and Gold9 (Zespri Charm)were growing in China and the company contacted New Zealand police regarding a possible breach of Zespri’s plant variety rights.

Doug says if the alleged case should it be proven, it’s unacceptable for a grower to break the plant variety rights.

“I am personally deeply disappointed and totally back Zespri to enforce the licence penalty provisions to nth degree. If proven, the actions of the grower have put at risk not only the New Zealand kiwifruit industry but NZ Inc as well as the kiwifruit industry contributes substantially to the New Zealand economy.”

The whole point, says Doug, in Zespri and the industry investing heavily in taking out plant variety rights (known as PVR) is to protect the investment in intellectual property and market advantages the varieties offer all growers.

“In 2016 Zespri spent $13 million in innovation plus another $13 million on new cultivars – which reflects the large investment the industry is making to keep producing the best fruit.

“Enforcement must be carried out. We have enough issues without shooting ourselves in the foot. We have to protect our intellectual property.

“The strength of the NZ kiwifruit industry is in our unity and having the best fruit varieties and best quality. If a grower has put that at risk it is very disappointing.

“The industry spends millions each year to bring growers an economic advantage – providing bud wood to someone else defies logic.”

No amount of money to an individual grower can come near what the industry as a whole could lose through new varieties being grown illegally overseas.

Doug says there is no lack of understating as to what growers’ obligations are under the licence agreement. The contract growers sign to grow new varieties is comprehensive and unambiguous in setting out the rights and obligations of growers.

While New Zealand’s border bio-security scrutiny for goods coming into the country is strict, Doug says he’s now not so sure about over sight of what goes out. “Obviously it’s easier to get plant material out than we would have thought.”





Bit of a worry

Posted on 22-09-2017 16:55 | By Papamoaner

You all make good points from where I’m standing, but you’re actually nibbling at the edge of a much bigger issue. Globalisation includes small countries effectively changing "ownership" by stealth. It’s insidious. For example, the biggest vehicle parking company in new Zealand with that very English/European name, not only occupies pretty much every bit of commercial parking space in our cities and towns, but also owns the parking enforcement companies. No prizes for guessing who owns the mother company.

Posted on 22-09-2017 13:57 | By morepork

I take your point, but what is under discussion here is NOT Chinese gooseberries. These fruit are the result of a very large investment by Kiwis to develop new strains of what was ONCE a Chinese native. It has taken large amounts of time and money to get them, and the intellectual property involved rightly needs to be protected. Somebody, probably motivated by greed, decided a quick buck could be made and took the opportunity. It completely eradicates all the time, money, and effort that went into the development, and it affects our country in terms of the loss of revenue. I guess you could argue that maybe the Chinese are due something for providing the original (like a small licence fee, perhaps), but the whole way in which this has been done is just wrong. It should be penalized.
Agree backoftheque

Posted on 22-09-2017 12:47 | By GreertonBoy

However, as I said in another thread, my Nana in Hamilton had a Chinese Gooseberry vine and when we visited, we would hog out big time... they were riper, softer and overall betterer... we would eat so many you almost needed a wheelbarrow to move us kids from the vine. The kiwifruit may look similar today, but they are nowhere near as good, especially picked early, maybe frozen, whatever they do to them, they are not as nice as unmolested Chinese Gooseberries. I have given up on kiwifruit of today. My point about how they got here, imagine if in 1906 a Chinese person came here and took some Puha or Rauriki back to China, fiddled with (Genetically) it and called it ’Chinese Leafy-stuff’ and then told us we weren’t allowed to grow Puha? That is how I see the situation here.
Whose berries?

Posted on 22-09-2017 09:01 | By backofthequeue

It’s a sad reality that food production is now controlled by corporates and their patent lawyers. Zespri are simply following the business model exemplified by the multi-national agribusiness - Monsanto Company.
I find it despicable that the....

Posted on 22-09-2017 07:26 | By GreertonBoy

Chinese dare to grow Chinese Gooseberries in China?! It should be banned![Sarcasm] I mean, how much$ did the Chinese get paid for our right to grow Chinese Gooseberries here in NZ? When Mary Isabel Fraser bought some plants back from China in 1906 after visiting Mission Schools as the Principal of Whanganui Girls College, did she pay the Chinese for the plants or even bring them back legally? I have never heard of someone pinching something off someone else, then being allowed to tell the person they pinched it off, they cant use whatever it is? Be grateful the Chinese dont sue you for knocking off their Chinese Gooseberries in the first place... Just let sleeping dogs lie and keep rolling in money Zespri.... you shouldn’t be rocking the boat. That would be like someone bringing moccasins back from the US and saying the Indians can’t sell them?

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