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Organic Agriculture

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 25–42 | Cite as

The development and implementation of organic seed regulation in the USA

  • Erica N. C. RenaudEmail author
  • Edith T. Lammerts van Bueren
  • Janice Jiggins
Article

Abstract

This article reviews and analyses the evolution of organic seed regulation in the USA, as a model case of how challenges in a new regulatory area are being addressed. The study draws on formal interviews of key stakeholders, participant observation and documents generated in a 6-year period between 2007 and 2013. The article addresses three main issues: (1) how proposals for the wording and implementation of the regulation constrain seed choices and give rise to unintended consequences, (2) how emergent organizations and procedures have responded to the tension between sustaining seed differentiation to match the characteristics of local markets, organic production and agro-ecologies, and the narrowing of varietal choice in catalogued seed so as to expand commercial organic seed markets and encourage organic seed breeding and (3) why consensus on the content of formal seed policy has failed to develop despite a high level of stakeholder engagement. The study revealed that the official guidance on the interpretation of the regulation has not been sufficiently decisive to prevent divergent interpretation and practices, and therefore, the needs of a rapidly growing economic sector are not being met. The article concludes by drawing lessons for key areas of regulatory interpretation and practice and by identifying possible ways to make organic seed governance more effective.

Keywords

Organic seed regulation Organic agriculture Regulatory processes Stakeholder interests United States (US) 

Institutions’ and organizations’ acronyms used in article

ACA

Accredited Certifier Association

AMS

Agricultural Marketing Service

AOSCA

Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies

ASTA

American Seed Trade Association

ATTRA

Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas

FFSC

Family Farmers Seed Cooperative

IFOAM

International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements

JC & CAC

Joint Crops and Compliance, Accreditation and Certification Committee

NOP

National Organic Program

NOSB

National Organic Standards Board

NOVIC

Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative

OFPA

Organic Foods Production Act

OFRF

Organic Farming Research Foundation

OMRI

Organic Materials Review Institute

OREI

Organic Research and Education Initiative

OSA

Organic Seed Alliance

OSP

Organic Seed Partnership

OTA

Organic Trade Association

PSI

Public Seed Initiative

SARE

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

SOS

State of Organic Seed

USDA

United States Department of Agriculture

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erica N. C. Renaud
    • 1
    Email author
  • Edith T. Lammerts van Bueren
    • 1
  • Janice Jiggins
    • 2
  1. 1.Wageningen UR Plant Breeding, Plant Sciences GroupWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Knowledge, Technology and Innovation, Social Sciences GroupWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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