“The Netherlands could become a frontrunner in biotechnology”. This was the VNO-NCW headline that recently appeared above the announcement of a report on the future of biotechnology in the Netherlands, which also includes breeding. In any case, programme manager Rutger Lommerse of Greenports Netherlands raised eyebrows, because wasn’t the Netherlands world champion?

View into the greenhouse at a Dutch breeder. (Vegetable News Archive, 2018)

“I thought we were among the best in the world, but apparently we have lost this position to the US and Flanders due to the drifting policy of various cabinets,” Rutger writes in a newsletter from the Greenports. “In those countries, local governments are responding better with their laws and regulations to the needs of this industry, which is crucial to horticulture as well as other areas. Creating the right conditions for safe and innovative entrepreneurship must be the credo. Preferably by not having to lay down all the details in advance in a bulky coalition agreement, but drafting it in such a way that it is adaptive. And therefore adapting it if the circumstances require it because this is prompted by new insights. Remaining world champion requires that type of policy. Let’s get going… ”

Greenports Nederland refers to this, among other things, in the Horticulture Agreement, under which a lot of signatures were signed in 2019. Since then, according to Rutger, it has become clear that political behavior does not always correspond with political ambitions. He mentions the allowing of green resources, energy innovation and also sees that the introduction of new breeding techniques fits onto that list.