Boosting organic seed & breeding – Policy and stakeholder recommendations

As the LIVESEED project is coming to its end, it has released a synthesis of all its results and recommendations.

Use and market potential of organic seed
The report first presents key results and innovations that allow boosting organic seed and plant breeding. LIVESEED identifies – for the first time – the use and market potential of organic seed for major crops. It also highlights the importance of more harmonized and stricter implementation of derogation rules for non‐organic seed supported by improved interactive national databases and an EU wide router database.

New cultivars and novel strategies for seed health
The report also summarises recommendations for the characterization and registration of new cultivar types with higher levels of genetic diversity, as now defined in the new EU Organic Regulation (2018/848). Novel strategies for seed health and frugal on‐farm cultivar testing networks were explored to allow farmers an informed choice of most-suited cultivars.

From a system-based breeding to reach the SDGs to genetic marker tools
LIVESEED also developed a systems‐based breeding concept including social aspects to achieve the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). Moreover, it explored both breeding strategies to enhance crops’ resilience by improved diversity (like cultivar mixtures, dynamic populations, composite cross populations, crop mixtures, agroforestry) and the importance of root and seed microbe interactions. The project also developed phenotypic screening and genetic marker tools for major crops and explored the perception of novel breeding techniques among organic consumers.

Making high-quality organic seed more available
After a synopsis of the main outcomes of LIVESEED, the synthesis presents the evidence-based recommendations and actionable next steps to improve the availability of high-quality organic seed of cultivars
suited for organic production with respect to:

  • Regulatory and policy measures on production, use, and transparency of organic seed;
  • Measures enabling release and marketing of organic heterogeneous material and organic varieties suited for organic production as well as frugal models for on‐farm cultivar testing supporting farmer’s choice);
  • A holistic organic seed health and quality strategy and upscaling seed production;
  • Boosting and harnessing innovations of organic plant breeding; and
  • Socio‐economic aspects to achieve a viable organic seed supply chain and consumer trust.

Read the full report Synthesis of the project’s results on LIVESEED’s website and follow the latest project’s developments on Twitter and Facebook using @LIVESEEDeu and #LIVESEEDeu.  

IFOAM Organics Europe members can access the arguments database on the member extranet for background materials on organic seed (main messages, arguments/FAQs, visuals & videos).

LIVESEED aims to boost organic seed and plant breeding across Europe. IFOAM Organics Europe and FiBL-Switzerland coordinate the project with 50 partners covering 18 EU countries. The LIVESEED project will increase transparency and will provide recommendations on organic seeds. The project partners analyse national seed databases and factors influencing organic seed production and use. They also explore national policies, smart practices, build EU infrastructure and analyse issues on propagation. The partners also want to advance testing protocols to improve the availability of organic seeds, ensuring they are adapted to the realities of organic farmers. LIVESEED is an EU Horizon 2020-funded project.

LIVESEED has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727230 and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation under contract number 17.00090. This communication only reflects the author’s view. The Research Executive Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.

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