Seed diversity under threat – Step closer to destruction of agricultural and horticultural seed diversity in Europe!


The EU directives on the marketing of seeds and plant propagating material are currently being reviewed in Brussels. The new regulation threatens rare varieties and farmers’ varieties. Non-commercial varieties are under particular threat of extinction, as the new regulation foresees that the exchange of seeds will become illegal for different kind of actors. This would harm small-scale farmers and local producers. On the other hand, industrial seed companies would extend their dominance.

If the Directorate General for Health and Consumers’ plans become a reality, more old and rare varieties of fruits, vegetables and grains will disappear from the market. These diverse varieties and varieties adapted to organic agriculture are to be hampered by bureaucracy, while the power of corporate agriculture is further strengthened.

The currently available texts for the new EU seed regulation will promote a concentration of the seed market into the hands of a small number of seed industry corporations. This is unacceptable. A new EU seed regulation must allow diversity varieties, varieties for small-scale farming and ecologically adapted breeding. Diverse varieties must be available not only in gene banks, but on the open market too, without any bureaucratic restrictions. The current registration criteria must be lowered for varieties suitable for organic farming by virtue of their diversity, so our agriculture remains adaptable to climate change, new pests and diseases, as well as more environmentally friendly lifestyles.

Neither the current EU seed law nor the presently available informally submitted drafts for legal changes to the law fulfil these requirements. They threaten seed diversity and thereby mankind’s common agricultural heritage. They also threaten sustainable food systems and exist only to serve the agrochemical industry.

For more information visit:

Campaign for Seed-Sovereignty www.seed-sovereignty.org

German umbrella organisation for crop and livestock diversity („Dachverband Kulturpflanzen- und Nutztiervielfalt e.V.“):

German Association for the conservation of crop plants („Verein zur Erhaltung der Nutzpflanzenvielfalt e.V.“):

Patrick Wiebe’s Blog: www.bifurcatedcarrots.eu/


The current EU seed regulations stem from a time in which environmental protection, nature and biological diversity were underestimated. There were numerous breeding enterprises which put an extensive diversity of varieties on the market. Most of these varieties could be re-sown after harvest, a technique which has existed for thousands of years, throughout agricultural history.

In the 1980s, two new terms had to be developed for what previously had just been common practice: firstly „farmers’ rights“ and secondly „open pollinated“ varieties (the seeds of which produce the same variety unless they cross with similar varieties). This is due to the fact that the seed market changed dramatically. Today, the ten biggest companies dominate three-quarters of the worlds’ seed market, and more than half of the global market comes from the chemical industry.

Most of the varieties are subject to legal and technical restrictions, which undermine re-sowing seed saved by the growers themselves. An official approval for the marketing of varieties was introduced, and the criteria for this are adapted to industrial varieties. Productivity and increasing world population were used to justify these developments. The comprehensive report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) illustrates the instability of this approach.

Crop diversity has largely disappeared from the market. This concerns the diversity of non-registered varieties – they are traded by thousands of intrepid citizens in Europe without the required registration. Today, we rely on the extensive expertise of these people, and we should encourage the increasing amount of people engaging in this activity, not only as a hobby but also to generate income and a livelihood from it.

A second important aspect is that hardly any appropriate varieties have been bred specifically for organic agriculture by virtue of their diversity. However, organic farming needs plants that are powerful without chemicals. This is only possible with a wide-ranging, natural gene pool. Such varieties are routinely deemed to be unacceptable for registration under the current criteria for seed registration.

Why sign

I would like to keep our world the way it is, for the future generations!

Defending our right to grow and eat the natureal foods of our choice for health and well being and diversity

Because we want to be free, and eat food that is not modified!

Freedom of seeds. The liberation of humans!

Because I grow my own veg and I enjoy ORGANIC HERITAGE SEEDS that is healthier and I do not want any GM near me ever!! It is also disgusting behavior for anybody to assume they have the right to control what we grow and how.

Information on how you can take action:

The Austrian seed saving organisation “Arche Noah” prepared a draft letter that you could use as template.


Sources: Open Petition, SeedPolicy, Seed Sovereignty

Featured image credit: TheFreeGeorge


Commenting rules and guidelines

We value the thoughts and opinions of our readers and welcome healthy discussions on our website. In order to maintain a respectful and positive community, we ask that all commenters follow these rules.


  1. “the new regulation foresees that the exchange of seeds will become illegalI”

    If we are pohibited from swapping seeds it is either time to kill the European Union or the people who vote for this regulation. That vote will be proof of corrupt backhanders recieved from the likes of Monsanto..

  2. I wish for action to be taken against the introduction of a law that bans certain varieties of seeds. We need diversity and it is morally wrong and natural to put such a law in place.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *