LIVESEEDING – upscaling organic seed and plant breeding in Europe

ORC is partners in a new Horizon Europe-funded project ‘LIVESEEDING’ – Organic seed and plant breeding to accelerate sustainable and diverse food systems in Europe.

Organic Seed Policy Conference and Horizon Europe funded ‘LIVESEEDING’ project kick-off meeting, 18-21 October 2022, Zagreb (Croatia)

The project, which builds on the work of LIVESEED, brings together 36 organisations operating in 15 European countries. The project started in October 2022 and will last for 4 years. The total project budget amounts to 6.6 million Euros (5.7 million pounds).

While European legislation already requires the use of organic seeds in organic agriculture, the continued granting of derogations for non-organic seeds discourages entrepreneurship in organic seed. Horizon Europe will provide much-needed resources to leading sector organisations in LIVESEEDING to overcome the practice of derogations and make organic seeds a reality in Europe. Also for the first time, the new EU regulation has set a definition for ‘organic varieties’ and recently published implementing directives as regards derogation for the release of organic plant varieties suitable for organic production Directive (EU) 2022/1647 and Directive (EU) 2022/1648.

LIVESEEDING project comes at a critical moment, to help achieve the ambitious targets the European Union set for the organic seed sector in the Farm2Fork Strategy and EU organic regulation,“ says Miguel De Porras, Director of FiBL Europe. “To reach 100% organic seed use in organic farming by 2035 and 25% of EU land under organic management by 2030, we need a six-fold increase in the production of organic seeds in the next 10 years. Such a massive increase will only be possible by joining forces. LIVESEEDING project brings together leading organisations in the sector” he added.

“LIVESEEDING’s primary ambition is to reach a quantum leap in the development of a strong and economically viable organic breeding and seed sector in Europe, through a multi-actor approach. It builds on the previous EU-funded project, LIVESEED, and will implement research findings into EU-wide practice” stated Monika Messmer, Senior plant breeding group leader at FiBL Switzerland and Scientific coordinator of LIVESEEDING. Her colleague, Mariateresa Lazzaro adds: “Innovation will be cogenerated in 17 living labs involving the whole value chain, from breeding to consumers and citizens. Learning will be distilled in capacity building for national authorities to apply more coherently the new organic regulation (Reg. EU 2018/848) and policy dialogue with European policymakers to advance the Farm2Fork strategy.

Project information

LIVESEEDING will contribute to the upscaling of organic production in Europe through:

  • Improving availability of organic plant reproductive material of organic cultivars of a large range of crops, bred for improved diversity and adaptation to local conditions, and
  • Strengthening and diversifying the organic seed sector informed by market demands.

LIVESEEDING contributes to the transition towards environmentally friendly, climate-neutral, healthy, and fair food systems through further development: 1) cultivars suited for organic and low external input production; 2) novel governance models linking breeders with value chain actors and citizens with local food production, and 3) awareness around the importance of biodiversity for our food and health. LIVESEEDING addresses the topics in a holistic multi-actor, multi-stakeholder participatory approach. It focuses on the 3 main drivers for change: 1) the supply and 2) the demand of organic seed and cultivars, and 3) enabling frameworks and roadmaps through active policy dialogue with national and European authorities and policymakers. LIVESEEDING provides science-based evidence and best practice solutions to achieve 100% organic seed.

See also: LIVESEED project comes to an end after 52 months

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