Seeds4all 2024 policy guideline

In July 2023, the European Commission tabled two proposals for legislation that will be decisive for the future of our agri-food systems (Production and marketing of plant reproductive material ; Production and sale of plants produced by certain new genomic techniques).

In 2013, a first Commission’s proposal to reform the EU seed marketing law failed to address agrobiodiversity issues. Although certain legal aspects have been improved this time, the new proposal introduced in tandem with that on GMOs, promotes a significant path dependency threatening food sovereignty and security.

It is the utmost responsibility of everyone in positions of power to act to prevent our European food supply from becoming even more concentrated in the hands of a handful of industrial players.

Key points guiding our vision:

  • Reversing the rule and the exception: we must overcome the vision that legislation should be designed primarily to meet the needs of industrial production and only tolerate at the margin the existence of "amateur" categories for greater seed diversity, benefiting from “exceptions” and "derogations".
  • Recognising the high degree of public benefit of the preservation, reproduction and use of population varieties and locally-adapted crops: because they largely contribute to strengthening food security (autonomy of rural communities, adaptation to climate change, crop resilience, etc.), these activities must benefit from significant regulatory, financial and infrastructural support.
  • Opposing the criminalisation of farmers and rural communities freely exchanging and using seeds: at a time when four companies control more than 50% of the global seed market, the defence of the inalienable right to seed autonomy must be defended as a way to ensure the circulation of crops that stand a better chance of adapting to local specificities and climate change.
  • Preventing the market to be flooded with de facto patented genetically modified varieties: in compliance with the precautionary principle and in order not to cause a decisive attack on food sovereignty (producer autonomy, consumer choice), it is imperative to oppose the authorisation of marketing new GMOs without any control and labelling rules.

Find out more by reading here the report of the seed conference held at the European Parliament on November 28 2023, and here our analysis of the worrying overlaps between the GMOs and seed marketing laws.

Another highly recommended resource for better understanding what’s at stake is the short documentary "Seeds of Europe" directed by Lennart Kleinschmidt and Lotta Schwenkert.

Showcasing both the diversity of Europe's agricultural ecosystems and a widely shared struggle for recognition of alternative seed practices, this short film pays great tribute to the people working to regenerate cultivated biodiversity.

“Seeds of Europe“ explores the lives and struggles of artisanal seed growers across six diverse countries in Europe. From Ireland to the Alps – from Eastern Europe to the Mediterranean, this short documentary spans language barriers, different climate regions and biographies, weaving them together into a story about the hard work necessary to preserve our cultivated heritage. “Seeds of Europe” tells the human stories behind the craftsmanship of seed-cultivation and preservation that has been handed down through generations. What does the future hold for cultivated plants and seeds in Europe? How do small producers of cultivated plant diversity view the situation? What do they hope for?