In Mexico there is a National Catalogue of Plant Varieties, which is published quarterly by the National Service of Inspection and Certification of Seeds (SNICS) and contains a list of plant varieties that have been described in accordance with international standards. Furthermore, the National Catalogue of Plant Varieties allows documenting the characteristics of common use varieties in Mexico, which would be useful in an eventual biopiracy controversy.

Registration in this list is the first requisite to enroll a plant variety in a SNIC's seed certification program. Through this certification program, SNICS verifies the seeds for sowing from their origin, during the field production process and conditioning, to their storage and commercialization, according to strict quality standards. Only the seeds with high genetic, physiologic, physical and phytosanitary quality are certified by the authority, thus receiving a label from the SNICS which gives the varieties higher commercial value. According to this, when a producer uses certified seeds, he has a guarantee that they have a good germination, that they are free of residues such as soil, as well as free of weeds, plagues and diseases, and that they belong to one single variety.

The plant variety to be listed in the Catalogue is reviewed and analyzed by the technical support groups determined by the authority, which issue an opinion regarding the fulfillment of the Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) requirements. However, the registration in the Catalogue is not a requirement for importation, it does not confer legal protection on the breeder's rights, and it neither implies that the plant variety agronomical behavior, adaptation ability or yielding have been assessed in a particular region. 

In order to list a plant variety in the National Catalogue of Plant Varieties, the information required in the Inscription Form is the same for filing a Plant Variety Breeder's Title Application, namely: plant genus or species

  • denomination,
  • classification and endogamy level of variety,
  • progenitors' information,
  • geographical and genetic origin,
  • genotechnical method for obtaining the plant variety,
  • conservation method of plant variety,
  • similar varieties and differences between them ,
  • place where the characterization of the variety was carried out and
  • general conditions.

In addition, a technical report describing all the phenotypic characteristics of the variety, in accordance with the Mexican authority and UPOV guidelines must be filed, together with the payment of the official fees.

Any plant variety can be listed in the Catalogue, independently if it is protected by plant breeder's rights in Mexico or not. However, in the latter case a written consent of the plant breeders' right owner must be provided as well.

It is important to mention that when a plant variety is already protected by a Breeder's Title, there is an express system to list such variety in the Catalogue. In that case, the only requirements are the Inscription Form, number of Breeder's Title and payment of the official fees.

At present, the Catalogue includes 2,547 varieties of 64 species, from which 239 are common use varieties corresponding to 23 crops. The main varieties registered in the Catalogue are corn, sorghum, wheat, bean, potato and prickly pear.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.