Is Your Plant Breeding Data Secure?

If data is lost, or ends up being seen by a competitor, disaster can result. The knowledge as to what parents are being used in crosses is critical and often top-secret. Such breeding decisions are based on years of knowing the germplasm, and thus are of strategic value.

Silhouette of a hacker on the background of secure data cloud
Silhouette of a hacker on the background of secure data cloud

Knowing how good a soon-to-be-released hybrid is gives a competitor early warning of what is coming next, and a competitor’s marketing team would really want to know this in advance — so they can get an advantage over you.

Bad data results in bad decisions. Bad data negatively impacts plant breeders and their respective companies in countless ways. That’s why you need good data, and it must be kept secure.

Assuming you have good data, how does the right software ensure better data security in the plant breeding field? An integrated database will connect and maintain the data, and offer different levels of security. For a start, user access should be controlled and an administrator should set up users for a given database within a breeding program.

Once in the database, there should be levels of access for a user — full rights, or only the ability to edit data, or maybe only to view data. Viewing pedigrees should be an option as well. Even better, for higher security, restrict which experiments or nurseries can be viewed by each person entering the database. This lets you protect your more sensitive data.

Secret data, secured!

transgenic watermelon
Transgenic watermelon

Transgenics is a good example. When companies research “events” which manipulate DNA, the resulting data is highly secretive and proprietary. That data must be protected. Some bigger seed companies do not want all their staff to see such data, given staff turnover and the possibility of a breeder going to a competitor. The more secure your data is, and the more you can control it, the better for your company.

Why risk the future of your seed company on Excel files, or some simpler, older, vulnerable software system?

(First published on, November 2016)

Dr Dieter Mulitze is Founder and CEO of Agronomix Software Inc. – developers of leading plant breeding software used worldwide by breeders and variety testers.

Categories: Data Security

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