Great changes are occurring in China's seed industry at present, while the core of industry transformation lies in the establishment of a commercial breeding system. The State Council issued the Suggestions for Accelerating Development of Modern Crop Seed Industry (the Suggestions) in April 2011, primarily to promote the commercial breeding capacity of seed companies, according to CCM Internationalís February Issue of Seed China News.
Most crop breeding resources covering talents and germplasms have always been concentrated in crop research institutes and agricultural universities, which have played the key role in breeding new crop varieties. Seed companies usually rely on buying variety patents from crop research institutes or agricultural universities, for the profits in seed production and marketing.
The traditional breeding system led by crop research institutes or agricultural universities has been based on China's scientific research system. On the one hand, the traditional breeding system has held the whole seed industry in China for a long time, or even caused far-reaching impact on China's agriculture. On the other hand, the relatively low breeding efficiency derived from the scientific research system has already become a restraining factor for the fast development of China's seed industry.
Compared with multinational group's large-scale and standardized commercial breeding procedure, domestic crop breeding mainly completed by research units is usually in small scale, lacking sufficient resource sharing and lagging behind the real market demands to a great extent. Objectively speaking, domestic research units' breeding programs in project team have cost substantial amounts of money from the government, but they haven't produced sufficient varieties with great commercial value.
There have been a large number of crop research institutes and agricultural universities committed to crop breeding or improvement. However, many breeding programs in project team are for the purpose of paper publication or eventual variety registration, rather than commercial achievements. Over 1,000 new crop varieties are released in China each year, but not more than 10% of the varieties have commercial value. In a sense, social and public resources to support research and breeding programs have been seriously wasted by research units.
It is believed that China's traditional breeding system under the scientific research system does not meet the requirement for industry development and market competition. Therefore, the commercial breeding system with high breeding efficiency and great contribution to support seed industry should be established in China.
According to Liu Shi, a professional manager in seed business and the former CEO of Longping High-tech, there should be three major differences between the commercial breeding system and the traditional breeding system. Compared with the traditional breeding system, the commercial breeding system is oriented by market demand, closely integrated with seed industry, owning a sharing mechanism for information and breeding resources.
Zhang Shihuang, a domestic famous expert in corn research and breeding, believes that there should be four major characteristics for commercial breeding: specialization, large scale, intensification and informatization.
According to Li Shaoming, CEO of Beijing Gold Agriculture Seed Industry Science Co., Ltd., the commercial breeding system is involved in activities of continuously creating new varieties with commercial value to meet market demand.
In Sept. 2011, a delegation led by Seed Administration Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture paid a visit to some seed companies in the U.S., like Monsanto, Pioneer, etc. After the visit, the delegation considers that domestic seed companies should learn the advanced experience from the counterparts of the U.S. in developing commercial breeding. It is necessary for domestic seed companies to extend industry chain and develop commercial breeding in an assembly line.
It seems that seed companies should take the charge to develop commercial breeding, as research units have been difficult to breed from the consideration of commercialization. However, it is also not easy for seed companies to set up commercial breeding system in a short time due to their weak R&D ability. Therefore, there is still a long way to go before the real commercial breeding system is set up in China.
Source: Seed China News 1202
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