Seed Legislation in Europe and Crop Genetic Diversity

Chapter
Part of the Sustainable Agriculture Reviews book series (SARV, volume 15)

Abstract

Crop genetic diversity has always been important for food production. With changing climatic conditions, the importance of crop genetic diversity is increasing as diversity is central to agriculture’s ability to adapt to higher temperatures, precipitation changes and new pests and diseases. Maintenance of and access to this genetic diversity has become crucial. Legislation on the marketing of seed and plant propagating material, often referred to as ‘seed legislation’, specifies the requirements that seed and other propagating material must fulfil to be marketed legally, and how this marketing may be conducted. Such legislation can have a great impact on the composition of the seed market, as well as on cultivation and breeding, not least as it has the potential to restrict access to and maintenance of crop genetic diversity. In the European Union (EU) seed legislation is based on the principles of variety registration and certification of seed lots. Seed may be marketed only if it belongs to a variety that has been registered and the seed lot has been certified. A variety must satisfy distinctness, uniformity and stability requirements. For heterogeneous varieties this can be problematic, which in turn has potential consequences for the maintenance and further development of crop genetic diversity.

The introduction of derogations for the marketing of certain types of varieties and seed mixtures for conservation purposes provided greater legal space for the maintenance of crop genetic diversity in the EU. However, these derogations cover only some of the crop genetic diversity excluded from marketing by the main legislation. In addition, restrictions limit where and to what extent such varieties and seed mixtures can be marketed. In a preliminary ruling on the validity of current restrictions on the marketing of unregistered varieties, the Court of Justice of the EU in 2012 held that the legislation was valid. Many central stakeholders had expected the judgment to follow the opinion of Advocate General Kokott, who had reached the opposite conclusion. While the opinion had found that the disadvantages of the restrictions in question outweighed the benefits, the judgment concluded that the legislation was not manifestly inappropriate, given the objective of improved productivity. However, current legislation has been under review, and some changes are expected. During the review process various stakeholders voiced a wide range of differing views. Also in the literature, various suggestions for changing the EU seed legislation have been offered. As the details of seed legislation have received little attention outside a small circle of stakeholders and decision-makers, it is hoped that this article can help bring greater awareness of its importance and potential impact on the maintenance of crop genetic diversity.

Keywords

Crop genetic diversity Agriculture Legislation Seed Propagating material Marketing Variety Landrace European Union Directives Derogations Conservation variety Review Evaluation Conservation Maintenance Kokopelli Opinion Judgment Reform 

Acronyms and Abbreviations

DG SANCO

Directorate General for Health and Consumers

DUS

Distinct, Uniform and Stable (of plant varieties)

EC

European Community

ESA

European Seed Association

EU

European Union

FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

FCEC

Food Chain Evaluation Consortium

References

Literature

  1. Almekinders CJM, Louwaars NP (2002) The importance of the farmers’ seed systems in a functional national seed sector. In: Louwaars NP (ed) Seed policy, legislation and law: widening a narrow focus. Food Products Press/The Haworth Press, HaworthGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersen R (2009) Information paper on Farmers’ Rights submitted by the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway, based on the Farmers’ Rights Project. Input paper submitted to the Secretariat of the Plant Treaty, 19 May 2009 (IT/GB-3/09/Inf. 6 Add. 3), Lysaker, NorwayGoogle Scholar
  3. Andersen R (2012) Plant Genetic Diversity in Agriculture and Farmers’ Rights in Norway. FNI Report 17/2012. Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Lysaker, NorwayGoogle Scholar
  4. Andersen R, Winge T (2011) The 2010 Global Consultations on Farmers’ Rights: results from an email-based survey. FNI report 2/2011. Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Lysaker, NorwayGoogle Scholar
  5. Bocci R (2009) Seed legislation and agrobiodiversity: conservation varieties. J Agri Environ Int Develop 103:31–49Google Scholar
  6. Bocci R, Levillain T, Kastler G, Serpolay E, Pino S, Nonne MF, Almekinders C, González JM, Valero T, Casado S (2009) National survey on the role of innovative market mechanisms. Farm Seed Opportunities and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), ParisGoogle Scholar
  7. Bocci R, Chable V, Kastler G, Louwaars N (2010) Policy recommendations. Farm Seed Opportunities and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), ParisGoogle Scholar
  8. Ceddia MG, Cerezo ER (2008) A descriptive analysis of conventional, organic and GM crop and certified seed production in the EU. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  9. Chable V, Goldringer I, Dawson J, Bocci R, Lammerts van Bueren E, Serpolay E, González JM, Valero T, Levillain T, Van der Burg JW, Pimbert M, Pino S, Kik C (2009) Farm seed opportunities: a project to promote landrace use and renew biodiversity. In: European landraces: on-farm conservation, management and use. Bioversity technical bulletin no. 15. Bioversity International, RomeGoogle Scholar
  10. Chable V, Thommens A, Goldringer I, Valero Infante T, Levillain T, Lammerts van Bueren E (2010) Report on the definitions of varieties in Europe, of local adaptation, and of varieties threatened by genetic erosion. Farm Seed Opportunities and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), ParisGoogle Scholar
  11. Frese L, Reinhard U, Bannier HJ, Germeier CU (2009) Landrace inventory in Germany – preparing the national implementation of the EU Directive 2008/62/EC. In: European landraces: on-farm conservation, management and use. Bioversity technical bulletin no. 15. Bioversity International, RomeGoogle Scholar
  12. Goldringer I, Dawson J, Serpolay E, Schermann N, Giuliano S, Chable V, Lammerts van Bueren E, Osman A, Pino S, Bocci R, Pimbert M, Levillain T (2010) Report on the analysis of the bottlenecks and challenges identified for on-farm maintenance and breeding in European agricultural conditions. Farm Seed Opportunities and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), ParisGoogle Scholar
  13. Lorenzetti F, Negri V (2009) The European seed legislation on conservation varieties. In: European landraces: on-farm conservation, management and use. Bioversity technical bulletin no. 15. Bioversity International, RomeGoogle Scholar
  14. Lorenzetti F, Lorenzetti S, Negri V (2009) The Italian laws on conservation varieties and the national implementation of Commission Directive 2008/62 EC. In: European landraces: on-farm conservation, management and use. Bioversity technical bulletin no. 15. Bioversity International, RomeGoogle Scholar
  15. Louwaars N (2002a) Seed policy, legislation and law. J New Seeds 4(1):1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Louwaars N (2002b) Variety controls. J New Seeds 4(1):131–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Louwaars N (2007) Seeds of confusion: the impact of policies on seed systems. PhD dissertation. Wageningen University, WageningenGoogle Scholar
  18. Louwaars N, Kik C, Lammerts van Bueren E (2010) Matches and mismatches of the 2008/62/EC Directive, text, practice, and positions. Farm Seed Opportunities and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), ParisGoogle Scholar
  19. Negri V, Maxted N, Veteläinen M (2009) European landrace conservation: an introduction. In: European landraces: on-farm conservation, management and use. Bioversity technical bulletin no. 15. Bioversity International, RomeGoogle Scholar
  20. Osman A, Chable V (2007) Breeding initiatives of seeds of landraces, amateur varieties and conservation varieties. Farm Seed Opportunities and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), ParisGoogle Scholar
  21. Osman A, Chable V (2009) Inventory of initiatives on seeds of landraces in Europe. J Agri Environ Int Develop 103:95–130Google Scholar
  22. Paavilainen K (2009) National policies and support systems for landrace cultivation in Finland. In: European landraces: on-farm conservation, management and use. Bioversity technical bulletin no. 15. Bioversity International, RomeGoogle Scholar
  23. Pimbert M (2011) Participatory research and on-farm management of agricultural biodiversity in Europe. International Institute for Environment and Development, LondonGoogle Scholar
  24. Thommen A, Lammerts van Bueren ET, Serpolay E, Levillain T, Valero Infante T, Bocci R (2010) Characterisation of stakeholder expectations – an expert survey. Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FIBL), FrickGoogle Scholar
  25. Tripp R (1997) Regulation and regulatory reform. In: Tripp R (ed) New seed and old laws: regulatory reform and the diversification of national seed systems. Intermediate Technology Publications and ODI, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Tripp R (2002) Seed regulatory reform: an overview. J New Seeds 4(1/2):103–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tripp R, Louwaars NP (1997) Seed regulation: choices on the road to reform. Food Policy 22(5):433–446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. United Nations (2009) Seed policies and the right to food: enhancing agrobiodiversity and encouraging innovation. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. Sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly. A/64/170. United Nations, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Vellvé R (1992) Saving the seed: genetic diversity and European agriculture. Earthscan and GRAIN, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. Visser B (2002) An agrobiodiversity perspective on seed policies. J New Seeds 4(1):231–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Treaties, Directives and the Proposal

  1. Convention on Biological Diversity, 5 June 1992Google Scholar
  2. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Plant Treaty), 3 November 2001Google Scholar
  3. Council Directive 66/401/EEC on the marketing of fodder plant seed, 14 June 1966Google Scholar
  4. Council Directive 66/402/EEC on the marketing of cereal seed, 14 June 1966Google Scholar
  5. Council Directive 68/193/EEC on the marketing of material for the vegetative propagation of the vine, 9 April 1968Google Scholar
  6. Council Directive 92/33/EEC on the marketing of vegetable propagating and planting material, other than seed, 28 April 1992Google Scholar
  7. Council Directive 92/34/EEC on the marketing of fruit-plant propagating material and fruit plants intended for fruit production, 28 April 1992Google Scholar
  8. Council Directive 98/95/EC amending, in respect of the consolidation of the internal market, genetically modified plant varieties and plant genetic resources, Directives 66/400/EEC, 66/401/EEC, 66/402/EEC, 66/403/EEC, 69/208/EEC, 70/457/EEC and 70/458/EEC on the marketing of beet seed, fodder plant seed, cereal seed, seed potatoes, seed of oil and fibre plants and vegetable seed and on the common catalogue of varieties of agricultural plant species, 14 December 1998Google Scholar
  9. Council Directive 98/56/EC on the marketing of propagating material of ornamental plants, 20 July 1998Google Scholar
  10. Council Directive 1999/105/EC on the marketing of forest reproductive material, 22 December 1999Google Scholar
  11. Council Directive 2002/11/EC amending Directive 68/193/EEC on the marketing of material for the vegetative propagation of the vine and repealing Directive 74/649/EEC, 14 February 2002Google Scholar
  12. Council Directive 2002/53/EC on the common catalogue of varieties of agricultural plant species, 13 June 2002Google Scholar
  13. Council Directive 2002/54/EC on the marketing of beet seed, 13 June 2002Google Scholar
  14. Council Directive 2002/55/EC on the marketing of vegetable seed, 13 June 2002Google Scholar
  15. Council Directive 2002/56/EC on the marketing of seed potatoes, 13 June 2002Google Scholar
  16. Council Directive 2002/57/EC on the marketing of seed of oil and fibre plants, 13 June 2002Google Scholar
  17. Commission Directive 2008/62/EC providing for certain derogations for acceptance of agricultural landraces and varieties which are naturally adapted to the local and regional conditions and threatened by genetic erosion and for marketing of seed and seed potatoes of those landraces and varieties, 20 June 2008Google Scholar
  18. Council Directive 2008/90/EC on the marketing of fruit-plant propagating material and fruit plants intended for fruit production, 29 September 2008 (Recast version)Google Scholar
  19. Commission Directive 2009/145/EC providing for certain derogations, for acceptance of vegetable landraces and varieties which have been traditionally grown in particular localities and regions and are threatened by genetic erosion and of vegetable varieties with no intrinsic value for commercial crop production but developed for growing under particular conditions and for marketing of seed of those landraces and varieties, 26 November 2009Google Scholar
  20. Commission Directive 2010/60/EU providing for certain derogations for marketing of fodder plant seed mixtures intended for use in the preservation of the natural environment, 30 August 2010Google Scholar
  21. Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the production and making available on the market of plant reproductive material (plant reproductive material law) of 6 May 2013Google Scholar

Other Documents

  1. Advocate General Kokott (2012) Opinion of Advocate General Kokott delivered on 19 January 2012. Case C‑59/11, Association Kokopelli v Graines Baumaux SAS. The Court of Justice of the European Union, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  2. Commission of the European Communities (2009) Action plan for review of the community legislation on marketing of seed and plant propagating material and related issues. European Commission, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  3. Court of Justice of the European Union (2011) Information note on references from national courts for a preliminary ruling (2011/C 160/01). In: Official Journal of the European Union, 28.5.2011, C 160/1, Brussels, BelgiumGoogle Scholar
  4. Court of Justice of the European Union (2012) Judgment of the Court (Third Chamber) 12 July 2012. Case C‑59/11, Association Kokopelli v Graines Baumaux SAS. The Court of Justice of the European Union, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  5. DG SANCO (2011) Options and Analysis of Possible Scenarios for the Review of the EU Legislation of the Marketing of Seed and Plant Propagating Material. DG SANCO, Brussels, BelgiumGoogle Scholar
  6. ESA (2012) Kokopelli ruling – CJEU confirms validity of European seed marketing legislation. ESA press release, 12 July 2012. European Seed AssociationGoogle Scholar
  7. European Commission (2013) Smarter rules for safer food: commission proposes landmark package to modernise, simplify and strengthen the agri-food chain in Europe. European Commission Press Release, 6 May 2013. Brussels, BelgiumGoogle Scholar
  8. FAO (1998) State of the world’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  9. FCEC (2008) Evaluation of the community acquis on the marketing of seed and plant propagating material (S&PM). European Commission, Brussels, BelgiumGoogle Scholar
  10. IFOAM (2012) European citizens must stand up for diversity on our plates. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements EU Group Press Release, 12 July 2012. International Federation of Organic Agriculture MovementsGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Fridtjof Nansen InstituteLysakerNorway

Personalised recommendations