EU Seed Diversity – The Final Word

14 thoughts on “EU Seed Diversity – The Final Word”

  1. Thank you for this update. It’s not clear to me why seed varieties should be regulated at all. Well, I suppose it’s to protect growers against fraud. But wouldn’t the free market do that? As in, a seed company would get a bad reputation. Other than anti-fraud, are these regulations about protecting a few huge companies?

    1. According to the EU Commission, it’s about guaranteeing certain quality standards both to growers and to the final consumers. As in, you wouldn’t want to find out that your whole field that you planted was planted with tampered-with seeds that spread a disease or something equivalent, I guess. I suppose the argument is that the spread of seeds could affect our environment and thus all of us, so there might be the need for some regulation from that angle? But I agree that it seems to limit competition and market entry, thus protecting the big players. Keep in mind though that there have been around 70 acts in the past that have already regulated much of these issues, and the EU argument is that the reform is making it actually less bureaucratic and more streamlined than before (not to argue that the status quo is the way to go, but just as a reference point).

      1. How interesting. Do you agree with the EU on their ‘less bureaucratic’ point?

        I’m thinking that for domesticated animals (livestock, pets, lab animals) rules are in place that seem to work all right. If you buy a puppy that’s registered with the Great Dane Society, raise it an breed from it, you’re going to get Great Danes. Otoh, I’ve purchased seeds from which fruit grew to completely the wrong size and shape. At least one of my neighbours on the allotment site believed that fruit shape was influenced by the parent plant having outcrossed, but he was mistaken. Crossbred fruit would look fine, until the next generation.

        So I see what you mean. A farmer could sow a whole field of fraudulently ‘certified’ seed, but then get a rag-bag of worthless plants.

        1. I have too little knowledge of the system before to have a strong opinion, but it seems that at least now varieties registered in one country are ‘legal’ in all of the EU. From what I understand, that hasn’t been the case before, or at least different countries had very different registration systems in place and it was a mess.

  2. Janiana, Thank you so much for this amazing synopsis. My fear is that every new legislation slowly tightens the noose around the small holders and sustainable agriculture partitioners, even if the changes are incremental. The movement is towards protecting the larger corporations. As is entirely evident in the Press Release, this entire policy shift is about encouraging and supporting trade in seeds internationally. Yet another shortsighted move that will neglect the rights and undermine the livelihoods of small sustainable farmers both in the EU and outside it.

  3. Hi Janina. Thank you for a good analysis, the original document is certainly a pain to get through and your clarifications have been very helpful. However, even though the most obvious concerns have been addressed in the final proposal, I would stop short at calling it ‘reasonable’, as it appears to still still favour the further concentration of seed production among a small number of players. I drew on your blog a bit to write a post (, please let me know what you think!

    1. Hey Martina, I was just reading your post, and am impressed by your analysis – I wholeheartedly agree with your argument about the two-tiered agricultural system and this arbitrary division between ‘niche markets’ and the big commercial interests. I do also find that the current draft seems more like a band-aid solution to address civil society concerns than a full plan to introduce the protection of biodiversity in our European agricultural system. In that extent, I am grateful that community organizations were actually able to mobilize as much as they finally did, since in retrospect the draft could have still been much worse than it is if you compare it to versions that were floated only weeks ago. But I agree that this doesn’t necessarily make it a good one.
      Looking forward to more conversations between European foodie grad students, I’m glad I found your blog!

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