The saga of Cordyline Red Fountain continues.
Gobsmacked we were by the decision of the NZ Plant Variety Rights’ Office to grant equal legal protection to Cordyline Roma 06 (also known as Cordyline Burgundy). It seemed that they were determined to find differences where none existed and as far as we were concerned, Cordyline Roma 06 was a generic copy with no unique, distinguishing characteristics. We could not understand why our repeated requests for a blind trial to see if the two were distinguishable were ignored.
Well, ain’t DNA just a wonderful thing? We were wrong in describing Cordyline Roma 06 as a generic copy. Not a copy at all. It has absolutely perfectly matched DNA to Cordyline Red Fountain. Identical DNA.
We had plants DNA tested in a specialist DNA laboratory in Australia. The comparator variety, Cordyline Pinot Noir showed in excess of 5000 markers of difference. Cordyline Red Fountain and Cordyline Roma 06 showed… none. None at all.
This surely disproves the claim made repeatedly by Malcolm Woolmore that he went back and repeated the original cross. We were always sure that was not true, because of aspects of that original cross known only to us. He did not have access to the original breeder plants we had here, so he would have used different parent plants and the DNA would have shown that.
So what now? In the light of this independent, scientific evidence, will the NZ Plant Variety Rights’ Office review the original application and data submitted and reject the original proposal? This is what we thought should have happened from the very beginning. DNA evidence is now deemed sufficient to send somebody to jail for life in murder trials. We are not suggesting that this would be an appropriate action in this case, but we are waiting to see what will happen next.
New Zealand is a member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties in Plants (UPOV) so this situation will not sit in isolation but is already receiving international scrutiny.