12 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM A further benefit is that DNA profiles are not sensitive to external environmen- tal factors and are considered as an objec- tive description of the genotype. OTHER ADVANTAGES Each individual UPOV member should keep track of all varieties of common knowledge. This is a huge task and much work is done in each member state. The availability of complete DNA databases that are accessible to all members is an important step in both improving the quality of the protection. The DNA of new applications can be tested against the DNA of all varieties of common knowledge in the database. If there is a match, an immediate action can be taken. If there is no 100 per cent match, the information from the data- base can be used to select the genetically closest varieties of common knowledge. These close varieties can be included in the growing trial to see if they are mor- phologically clearly distinct or not. In the growing trial, a full descrip- tion of the candidate variety is made. For a final check, this description is compared with the descriptions of the varieties of the variety collection in the member state concerned. If still one or more close varieties are found, these can be grown in a second growing cycle. If not, Plant Breeders’ Rights can be granted. FURTHER USE OF MOLECULAR TECHNIQUES It can be expected that at a given moment the present system of application with a Technical Questionnaire, completed by the applicant, will be improved by adding DNA information or even replaced by DNA information. Finally, it can be expected that molecular information as such will become part of the DUS pro- cess. The genetic distance of a candidate variety with a number of agreed standard varieties may well be useful as additional DUS characteristic. This could be a good tool to be able to distinguish varieties that have improved VCU or consumer value, which at the moment cannot be distinguished using the existing UPOV guidelines and principles. Editor Note: Kees van Ettekoven was Head of the Variety Testing Department at Naktuinbouw (the Netherlands Inspection Service for Horticulture) for 41 years. He was appointed as Senior PVP Policy Advisor at Naktuinbouw on 1 January 2017. A variety can be granted plant breeders' rights based on the expression of the characteristics that result from a certain genetic composition. It is already possible to apply a molecular test to replace a bio test.