EU Seed Law Reform and New Genetic Engineering – Double Attack on our Seeds

July 5 2023, ARCHE NOAH today released a statement in response to the EU Commission’s proposals for revised seed marketing legislation and the deregulation of “new genomic techniques”. Seeds4All
supports the statement, which raises the alarm about the threat these proposals present to the future of genetic diversity in Europe and calls on agriculture ministers and MEPs to protect farmers, consumers and biodiversity. Read it in full below.

For more information on Seeds4All’s work, check out our page here on the ARC2020 website, as well as our dedicated project website and most recent publication.

5 July 2023, ARCHE NOAH Press Release

EU proposals fuel monopolisation at the expense of farmers and consumers

Brussels, Vienna, Schiltern – Today the European Commission presented the package of legislation in relation to “sustainable use of natural resources”, which includes the new “EU Seed Regulation” and a legislative proposal to deregulate the “New Genetic Engineering”. “We are dismayed by this attack on
our seeds and crop diversity in Europe,” says Magdalena Prieler, policy officer for ARCHE NOAH in Brussels. “With these proposals we run the risk of global corporations gaining complete control over our food. Agriculture Ministers and the European Parliament must act to protect farmers, consumers, and

According to ARCHE NOAH, which has hands on expertise in the cultivation and sustainable use of the cultivated plant diversity, the proposed seed marketing regulation burdens the transfer of diverse seeds with excessive rules, to the detriment of agriculture and crop diversity. Any transfer of seeds outside the private sphere is classified as “marketing” and subjected to strict bureaucratic regulations. Even the transfer of seeds for the preservation of diversity, which has so far been freely possible in Austria for
example, is to be tightly restricted. “Seed initiatives, gene banks and farmer networks all over Europe preserve the genetic diversity of cultivated plants. This valuable work must not be endangered by bureaucratic and impractical requirements,” demands Magdalena Prieler of ARCHE NOAH

Today is also a dark day for farmers who want to preserve their independence from the big seed corporations. According to the current draft, they are only allowed to exchange their own seeds in small quantities and under certain conditions. Selling is no longer possible. Public gene banks, private collections and seed initiatives are also no longer allowed to give their seeds to farmers. “The draft denies farmers their right to seed! Important alternatives to industrial seed are being destroyed. Our farmers want to be able to decide for themselves which seeds they buy and cultivate, not least in order to adapt their fields to the climate crisis,” says Prieler.

ARCHE NOAH demands that the dissemination and sustainable use of crop diversity be expressly permitted and that all regulations that hinder this work be deleted from the seed law. Furthermore, the right of farmers to harvest, use, exchange and sell their own seeds, as enshrined in international law, must be implemented. ARCHE NOAH welcomes the fact that the sale of seeds to hobby gardeners is exempted from the obligation to certify varieties. Private exchange and sale should remain completely free, but this
concession to diversity does not mitigate the serious shortcomings in other parts of the legislation.

ARCHE NOAH sees the planned deregulation of new genetic engineering as a further burden for the (GMO-free) conservation of cultivated plant diversity. “Our farmers would be at the mercy of powerful agrochemical corporations like Bayer, BASF, Corteva and Syngenta, which already control more than half of the global seed market.” Patents on GM plants provide exclusive rights to the use of certain important traits and block the development of new varieties,” warns Magdalena Prieler of ARCHE NOAH. “The use of
disease resistances that are essential for survival must not be privatised. New genetic engineering is first and foremost a tool for corporations to squeeze their competitors out of the market and expand further their control over our food system.”

The EU Seed Regulation proposed today will replace ten existing directives. It regulates the production and marketing of seeds and other plant propagating material (potatoes, fruit plants, etc). With the new regulation, the European Commission intends to adapt the outdated seed legislation to the goals of the European Green Deal. “We urgently need more diversity in our fields and on our plates to counteract the climate and biodiversity crisis and to produce tasty, healthy food. Unfortunately, this draft does not achieve that,” Prieler notes.

In the coming days, the European Parliament and the Council of Agriculture Ministers will start their work on the draft legislation. A first exchange is planned for the Council meeting on 25 July. “Agriculture Ministers and the Parliament have a lot of work to do: They must demand farmers’ right to seeds and protect crop diversity from overregulation and patents! Because genetic diversity is our insurance against the challenges of tomorrow “, Magdalena Prieler summarises.

ARCHE NOAH, Association for the Conservation and Dissemination of Cultivated Plant
Axel Grunt
Head of Communication
+43 680 2379245
Magdalena Prieler
Seed Policy Officer (Brussels)
+43 676 7750132


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