denmark seed marketing legislation

The sale of seed to non-professional users is free in Denmark since 2015.

Denmark has clearly recognised, in a guide or circular issued by the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture in 2015 entitled "Vegetable and Cereal Seeds", the possibility of freely exchanging and selling seeds to amateur gardeners, in these terms (page 18 of the Guide):

"7. The marketing and exchange of seeds not intended for commercial exploitation:

You are free to market and exchange seeds that are not intended for commercial exploitation or use. The sale and exchange of vegetable seeds, for example, to individuals is therefore not affected by the seed legislation rules. Annex 2 illustrates when seeds can be freely marketed and in which other cases the requirements for catalog variety registration and seed certification should be complied with, as described in section 6. If you are exchanging seeds, however, be aware not to spread unwanted diseases to plants and living organisms (see section 12.3)."

The Danish government presented this circular to the European Commission on 25 May 2016, with the help of a PowerPoint document in which it gives its interpretation of the terms "for commercial exploitation". This document states:

What is meant by the term "Aimed at commercial exploitation?

For the purpose of agricultural and horticultural production = commercial production:

- The EU directives on the marketing of seeds have suspension in the EU's agricultural policy, which has the following aims:

- The Lisbon Treaty, Article 39

- to increase agricultural productivity

- to ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community

- to stabilize markets

- to ensure security of supply, and

- to ensure reasonable prices for consumers.


We consider therefore that the directives are aimed at the marketing of seeds with a view to a commercial use in agricultural and horticultural production. This is also mentioned in the preamble of the directives.

This includes hobby varieties and conservation varieties for commercial use.

Denmark has very logically concluded that exchanges and transfers of seed for home gardeners can be exempted from the rules on seed trade, and in particular from the obligation to register in the official catalogue:

What is exempted according to the Danish practice?

1. Exchange and trade of seeds for non-commercial use, i.e. seed which is not used for agricultural and horticultural production:

- Exchange and trade of seed considered for non-commercial use

- private use (hobby gardeners),

- tests and trials (small amounts) and

- gene banks

This also includes hobby varieties for non-commercial use.

2. Species not included in the directives

3. Varieties for other purpose, eg. rape seed as babyleaves

4. Exchange of seed in a closed circuit.

This exemption scheme similar as the one put in place by France a few years after.