About 75% of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost worldwide since industrialisation. In response to this decline, the sustainable use and enhancement of plant genetic resources and agricultural genetic diversity form an important part of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020.
Farmers have contributed substantially to the evolution of genetic diversity in agriculture and they play a key role in the dynamic conservation and continuous improvement of these strategic resources.
IFOAM EU Group advocates for policy frameworks that enable organic breeders, farmers and gardeners to contribute to the development of plant genetic diversity. The EU regulation for the marketing of seed and plant propagating material must facilitate the marketing of landraces, farmers' breeds, open pollinated varieties, populations and cross composites. It must not create undue administrative burden for farmers, gardeners and small breeders. A targeted EU programme for genetic resources, in combination with adapted Rural Development measures, should support activities that develop genetic diversity and bring it to market.
The legislative proposal on the production and making available on the market of plant reproductive material has been published by the Commission on 6th May 2013. While the European Parliament rejected the Commission proposal on 11 March 2014, discussions in the Council have not been concluded. The European Commission held a discussion round with stakeholders on 15 July 2014.
IFOAM EU in cooperation with the Lower Saxony Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection held a panel discussion on the future of the seed legislation in Brussels on 27 November 2013.
The Commission has already started addressing some of these issues to the EU Institutions with a letter sent by Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis to Agricultural Ministers on 13 May 2015 questioning how the Commission should proceed with a number of DG SANTE files including the revision of seed and plant reproductive material.