Breeders Trust has written to more than 130 Belgian arable farmers on the basis of crop data obtained by way of a court order against the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC).
It has been revealed that over the past four growing years more than 11,000 tonnes of seed potatoes of the Fontane, Asterix and Felsina varieties alone have been illegitimately used on farms right across Belgium.
"This more than confirms our suspicion that farmers are using their own seed potatoes on a large scale without paying the licence fees," says Geert Staring, general director of Brussels-based Breeders Trust.
The use of new varieties protected by plant breeder's rights for which no licence fees are paid has for many years been a source of great annoyance to potato breeders.
Breeders miss out on the licence fees they are entitled to, the market is spoilt and seed-potato trading companies suffer damage due to the loss of exclusivity and their compromised situation.
Breeders Trust was established by the eight largest seed-potato trading companies in northern Europe for the specific purpose of putting an end to this illegitimate use of new potato varieties.