Seed exchange networks for agrobiodiversity conservation. A review

Organic agriculture regulations, in particular European regulation EC 889/2008, prescribe the use oforganically produced seed. For many cultivated plants, however, organic seed is often not available.This is mainly because investment in organic plant breeding and seed production has been low in the past. To bridge the gap between organic seed supply and demand, national and European regulationsdefine certain circumstances under which organic producers are permitted to use non-organically produced seed. While the organic sector currently depends on these concessions, they also threaten toimpede a further increase in the demand for organic seed, thereby potentially restraining present andfuture investment in organic seed production and plant breeding. We review the current status of theorganic seed regulations framework by analysing key issues such as the role of the national derogationregimes, the role of expert groups, databases and seed prices. Key points are that (a) the situation ofthe organic seed sector has improved over the last few years; however, (b) reporting on organic seedto the EU by different countries needs to be harmonised; (c) the success of the organic seed sectordepends critically on the implementation and improvement of national expert groups; and (d) to protect genetic diversity, the use of local varieties and landraces should not be impeded by organicseed regulations.

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Research Paper

Seed exchange networks for agrobiodiversity conservation. A review


Sustainable farming

Researcher Name

Thomas F. Döring, Roger Hitchings, Sally Howlett, Louisa R. Winkler, Martin S. Wolfe; Riccardo Bocci; Edith Lammerts van Bueren; Marco Pautasso; Maaike Raaijmakers

Organisation/ University

Organic Research Centre, Hamstead Marshall; Associazione Italiana per l’Agricoltura Biologica, Via Piave; Louis Bolk Institute, Hoofdstraat 24, 3972 LA Driebergen; Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, UMR 5175 CNRS, 34293, Montpellier, France; FRB – Centre de Synthèse et d’Analyse sur la Biodiversité (CESAB), 13857 Aix-en-Provence, France



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