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Breeders Trust detective work catches seed potato company mixing in table potatoes

Breeders Trust 'detective work' catches seed potato company mixing in table potatoes

The first sign that something was amiss was a rogueing cart entering the field, a common practice for seed potatoes, but not for table potatoes (Courtesy: NAK)

November 22, 2018
Earlier this month, Breeders Trust - an organisation looking after the interest of a.o. potato breeders - revealed a major fraud, concerning the switching of at least 200 tons of potatoes meant for consumption, to seed potatoes.

Seed Company Mts. H. te Luttelgeest (the Netherlands) was caught red-handed when adding the yield from a lot of consumption potatoes to a lot of seed potatoes.

Breeders Trust had been monitoring a potato field for months, after it had been established this summer, that it was driven in with a roguing cart, but had not been inspected by the NAK (Dutch Inspection Service). It was also noticeable that the planting distance did not reflect the usual planting distance for the cultivation of consumption potatoes.

Breeders trust describes how they consciously waited until the field was harvested, to be able to track the plot's yield. In this way, Breeders Trust was led to the company H. with more than 100 hectares of seed potatoes, among others, the 'french-fry' varieties Fontane and Innovator. The investigation into the alleged cheating focused on these varieties in particular.

The NAK was then called in and took appropriate action by following the loads to the storage location during the harvest process. This led to the potato grower in question being caught in the act of labelling and adding to the seed potato lot.

This is a major misconduct, according to Mr Staring, director of the Brussels-based Breeders Trust:

“In addition, we compared the data from field sampling of various seed potato growers over the past 3 years with the gross yields per variety and per hectare.”

“Normally, these are determined by the field staff, which must include all contract potatoes in storage in the seed potato storages. This information was filled into the certificates issued by the NAK, as well as the delivery notes.”

“Subsequently, the allotment for so-called 'own use' (with the permission of the variety owner, a certain amount is withheld, i.e. a pre-registered quantity of seed potatoes for planting on their own plot in the following growing season), was subtracted so that an accurate and complete picture of the situation could be ascertained.”

“This is another way in which the involved seed potato company could be exposed; this research will be further expanded over several cultivation years.”
Following its own on-site investigation, the NAK has since informed Breeders Trust, on questioning, that it had imposed appropriate measures on the company concerned.
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Breeders Trust S.A. is an organisation of seed potato breeding companies in Europe involved in the development of new potato varieties. Breeders Trust supports the implementation and enforcement of their Plant Breeders Rights protection and the prevention of the illegal trade in plant propagation material.
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