History & recent developments

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

Colourful diversity, not standardized uniformity!

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 February 2015 the European Commission withdrew its former proposal for a new seed marketing regulation. Previous to that, the European Parliament had rejected this very proposal.

In 2014, about 900,000 people across European Union signed petitions against the proposed seed marketing regulation. In Austria alone, the home of ARCHE NOAH, more than 500,000 people raised their voices against standardised uniformity, and spoke up loud for “freedom for diversity to save rare peasant seeds and plant varieties. 

 

(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!

 
 
Saatgut

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.

 
 

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ARCHE NOAH (Noha’s Ark), a seed savers’ organisation based in Austria. Together with its 14,000 members, it works for a new seed marketing regulation draft that is sustainable and inclusive.