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Improved crops and new varieties with high value have several advantages for farmers: higher yields, improved quality, greater resistance to pests, and higher market prices.

Citrus Tree

The developers of these crops need to protect their intellectual property rights to collect rightful royalties, but this can be difficult without DNA analysis.

The development of improved seeds for agriculture is expensive in terms of time and money. Companies must protect their intellectual property rights with regards to improved crops to facilitate the rightful collection of royalties. For businesses looking to protect their investments, however, identifying patented products by physical appearance can be difficult. Very often, the phenotype lacks distinguishing characteristics, meaning the proprietary crop cannot be readily differentiated from similar unmodified crops.

SGS has developed an extensive range of monitoring services to help companies protect their intellectual property rights. These cover a wide variety of crops – from arable crops to orchard fruits. Using DNA analysis, SGS can help businesses identify suppliers who are using their product without permission.

In the recent example of a new citrus crop variety being introduced into South America, LATAM, the US and South Africa, and the developer wished to monitor the crop from field to table. They hoped to identify the planted area, monitor the citrus fruit during transportation along the supply chain, and assess the product at the final stages as it reached global retailers. Since visual characteristics were insufficient to identify its product at every stage of the supply chain, the company chose to rely on DNA analysis to identify their crop.

SGS has established standard operating procedures (SOP) to take samples from individual trees and single fruits, allowing them to verify citrus varieties along the entire value chain. Using this method, SGS was able to identify the area in which the produce had been grown, helping the company counteract illegal planting. SGS was also able to establish if fruits had been mixed or exchanged during the supply chain and assess whether the product has been accurately labeled in the shops.

To achieve this high level of analysis, SGS requires only one droplet of juice from a sample. Every sample is barcoded, before being analyzed at one of our dedicated DNA testing laboratories. The client therefore has complete traceability back to the specific point of sampling in the food value chain.

The true value of the improved product can only really be assessed once it has reached the consumer. It is at this point that the cost of developing the new variety of citrus fruit begins to be repaid. The supply chain for new varieties, however, has a number of different actors that can distort results, meaning DNA verification is the only way for the royalty holder to protect their product.

As the world's leading independent verification, testing and certification company, SGS has a network of independent inspectors to support royalty-based businesses around the globe. We understand quality and have the high-tech analytical laboratories and management structures in place to protect agricultural intellectual property rights. The example in this article is for a citrus fruit but our expertise, established SOPs and training documents, mean that our systems can be replicated to cover a number of different inquiries and geographies.

For further information, please contact:

Raúl Ruiz López
Head of Test Facility
t: +34 954 524142

About SGS

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.