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Wednesday, 05 February 2014

European Seed Legislation: Who will profit, who will lose?

A conference on the European seed legislation and policy took place in Brussels on 22 January 2014 under the patronage of IFOAM EU and was supported by Demeter International and 16 stakeholder NGOs. The theme of event was: “Challenges for producers, consumers and citizens: Who will own the seeds?”. Representatives of the European Institutions, Member State Authorities, farmers’ associations, breeders, seed savers, universities, churches, journalists and many relevant NGOs attended the conference with more than 120 participants.
Main conference aims were to discuss the European seed legislation proposal and its consequences, the situation of SME breeders (especially in organic farming), the question of agro-biodiversity (i.e. the use of landraces instead of genetically uniform varieties), food sovereignty, research needs, but also new models like the Commons and citizens’ participation concerning seeds.    
Whereas Päivi Mannerkorpi from the European Commission (DG Health and Consumers) suggested that the legislative proposal on plant reproductive material offers sufficient new possibilities for more diversified production, relevant policy decision makers and stakeholders had their reservations. MEP Martin Häusling (The Greens/EFA) stated that seeds are a public good and therefore of public interest. Their regulation must be further discussed in public, not only in the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council.
Observers concluded that the broader picture of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) shows still a too dominant priority setting on competition in agriculture and in the seed market. Therefore it is very difficult to achieve seed conservation and enhance agro-biodiversity within the current system. However there is hope for a beginning paradigm shift, if civil society and more and more consumers will express their demand for a European agricultural system and practice, in which seed and cultivated plant diversity is one important basic element.

Source: IFOAM EU