EU Seed Law

Saatgut-Tausch, selbstgewonnenes Saatgut von ARCHE NOAH ErhalterInnen (c) Doris Steinböck

Colourful diversity, not standardized uniformity!


The rules for cultivated plant diversity are being renegotiated - the EU seed marketing legislation

The problems due to the current EU seed marketing legislation - lack of coherence, complex, rigid and expensive procedures and a drastic loss of plant genetic resources during the past decades (according to the FAO, worldwide minus 75% since 1990) – motivate the EU to update the existing legislation on the production and marketing of plant reproductive material.

In 2014, the attempt to further strengthen industrial seed standards on the cost of agrobiodiversity and hinder the seeds exchange between farmers and gardeners was defeated thanks to a Europe-wide campaign. Now we face a new  proposal by the EU Commission.

ARCHE NOAH is doing its utmost to enforce the rights of farmers to own their own seeds and  exchange them with others and to bring rare and traditional varieties back to our fields, gardens, and tables. Diversity has to be enabled to become mainstream, industrial standards should be optional! No more legal restrictions on small quantities, small packages, niches, and overwhelming bureaucracy. Together with seed conservation actors from all over Europe we work to free agrobiodiversity from its bureaucratic constraints.


This work is supported by Software AG as part of the project ‘Gemeinsam Vielfalt befreien' (Together we free diversity)

ARCHE NOAH Comment on EU Commission‘s proposal for a new seed marketing law

13. July 2021: in a first round, the EU Commission gathered feedback from stakeholders concerning the presented options for reforming seed law. ARCHE NOAH participated mentioning that space for diversity is critically needed.

Click here to read Arche Noah's statement.

Saatgutpolitik-Worskhop 2021

Workshop on the Inception Impact Assessment

Last week the EU Commission published a report for the Inception Impact Assessment of the future EU seed law. The report presents various reform options, discusses possible effects, and asks for feedback.

ARCHE NOAH has therefore organized a Europe-wide workshop with seed initiatives, farming organizations and seed savers on June 21st. The workshop gave us the opportunitiy to discuss the Inception Impact Assessment, exchange ideas and prepare for the consultation process.

Click here for the Inception Impact Assessment.

Click here for the workshop-presentation.

EU Parlamant, Bild: norrebrogade/

European Parliament resolution – importance of crop diversity recognized

On June 9th the European Parliament emphasizes the importance of bringing nature back onto agricultural land in its new report on the EU biodiversity strategy. The diversity of agricultural ecosystems should be promoted and the local genetic resources should be preserved! In the EU biodiversity strategy, the EU Commission had already considered revising the marketing regulations for traditional crop varieties in order to contribute to their conservation and sustainable use. The registration of seeds should also be made easier for organic agriculture, as well as for traditional and locally adapted varieties. We welcome the fact that the central role of maintaining the diversity of cultivated plants in dealing with the climate and environmental crisis is finally recognized. Words must now be followed by action: We are committed to putting an end to the ongoing bureaucratic restriction of diversity with a diversity-promoting seed law!

Click here for the report of the European Parliament

(c) Arche Naoh Schiltern

Commission publishes study on seed marketing legislation!

On April 29th the European Commission published a study on options to reform the seed marketing legislation. The current rules promote industrial, global crops at the expense of locally adapted and produced seeds, and neglect the right of farmers and gardeners to use, exchange and sell their seeds.

We welcome that, in its study, the Commission recognises that the current legislation hinders the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources. However, we are alarmed that the Commission does not rule out the possibility of regulating the exchange of seeds as “marketing”. The right to free exchange of seeds, which is anchored in both international and Austrian law, must remain.

Click here for the study!


Upcoming reform of the EU seed law

In November 2019 the Council of Minister requested the European Commission to carry out a study on options to update the existing legislation on the production and marketing of seeds and other plant reproductive material. The Commission is expected to publish the study in April 2021.

In advance of the study’s publication, 36 organisations from across Europe submitted a joint letter to the European Commission calling for laws that promote, rather rather than discriminate against, the diversity of cultivated plants, and respects the right to seeds anchored in international law.

Click here for the paper


Withdrawal of the EU seed regulation

In February 2015 the European Commission formally withdrew thedraft seed marketing regulation, one year after the European Parliament rejected it. Following this decision, a coalition of NGOs, farmers' associations, and seed savers called on the European Commission to grasp a historic opportunity to conduct an ambitious reform of the EU PRM marketing law, ensuring that it is effectively “fit for purpose” and responds to all connected cross-cutting issues. Read the Call.


Industrial crops by law?

On May 6, 2013 the draft for a new EU seed regulation was launched despite huge public protest. If the new EU seed regulation had been adopted, it would have meant huge administrative hurdles and strong biological limitations. It would have threatened local varieties, ignored the costumers' freedom of choice and forced the interests of the agribusiness. The seed regulation was tailored to serve corporate interests and restricted non industrial plants to tiny and bureaucratic niches. The message was clear: Diversity and farmers’ seeds must be an exception; industrial crops must be the rule. 

Gardeners, farmers and growers exchange their seeds because of their interest in old, rare or particular varieties of vegetables and crops. Some seed swaps and seed exchange would have become illegal with the now rejected seed regulation. It was planned that growers who want to pass on their own seeds or other propagating material would have to register as “operators”. Also, the plants would have to undergo "registration". These tests had been designed for industrial varieties; most old and rare varieties are not able to fulfil the registration criteria for biological reasons.