European Parliamentarians, NGOs and organic sector discuss seed marketing rules

Before the European Parliament’s summer break, the political process reviewing seed marketing rules kickstarted with an event on 22 June. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Martin Häusling (Greens/EFA), Eric Andrieu (S&D), Norbert Lins (EPP), Dacian Ciolos (RENWEW) and Anja Hazekamp (The Left) hosted the event.

Arche Noah, Biodynamic Federation Demeter, Geneva Academy and IFOAM Organics Europe organized the event which served as a platform for seed conservationists, peasant seed systems and the organic movement to share with Members of the Parliament what the seed marketing reform needs to be a success this time.

Europe’s seed systems are varied & need a segmented approach

One of these elements of success is a legal framework adequately considering the broad variety of seed systems in Europe and the resulting need for a segmented approach. Long-term members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development Martin Häusling and Norbert Lins, who have seen a similar process for new rules fail in 2013, reminded the audience and the Commission that this time, a different approach is needed to get to a proposal that will be backed by the majority of the European Parliament. In reaction, the EU Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) presented the progress made and assured the audience that the interests of diversity seed systems as well as the organic sector were included from the start this time.

Ease seed savers’ work & remove barriers marketing seeds to non-professionals

The event, moderated by long-term former Agriculture advisor for the Greens, Hans Lorenzen, covered:

  • The scope of the legislation (which activities should be considered as seed marketing in the sense of the law?);
  • Pathways for marketing varieties for organic and low-input agriculture; and
  • Challenges and opportunities identified by different stakeholders.

The hosting organizations pointed out that the reform should facilitate and stimulate the work of seed savers and remove barriers when marketing seeds to non-professionals.

Link the EU Organic Regulation and Seed Marketing Rules & create registration criteria for organic varieties

For the organic movement, it is crucial that progress made in the context of the Organic Regulation is integrated in the Seed Marketing Rules and that there are optional adapted registration criteria for Organic Varieties.

As an addition to the classic (organic) variety categories, the proposal of a “diversity variety” category was brought up in several presentations, which would host those plant reproductive material that fall outside of the scope of the classical seed and variety system, such as conservation varieties, varieties with no intrinsic commercial value and heterogeneous populations.

What lies ahead

We expect a proposal for new seed marketing rules to be published late 2022. The event in the European Parliament can be seen as a first step in the political discussions that will unfold later this year and in 2023.

IFOAM Organics Europe represents the organic movement in this political process to make sure that organic has access to a wide range of varieties and cultivars that are well-adapted and suitable for organic and low-input agricultural systems.

For more information on seeds and IFOAM Organics Europe’s work on this issue, please contact [email protected]. IFOAM Organics Europe members can find more information on the member extranet and background materials in the arguments database on the member extranet (main messages, arguments/FAQs, visuals & videos). Contact [email protected] for access rights (issues).

For information about what you can gain from being a member, read our membership page and contact [email protected].

The work of IFOAM Organics Europe on this topic is co-financed by the LIFE programme of the European Union, under the under the Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). This publication only reflects the views of the authors and its sole responsibility lies with IFOAM Organics Europe. CINEA is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.

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