Organic seed and organic heterogeneous material

Proposal for a toolbox to identify and characterise Organic Heterogeneous Material

ORC Wakelyns Population. Photo: Mark Lea

As part of the LIVESEED: Boosting organic seed and plant breeding across Europe project ORC has co-authored a Proposal for a toolbox to identify and characterise Organic Heterogeneous Material (OHM)


This document aims to aid in the interpretation and implementation of the new Organic Regulation
text and to be considered as scientific input in the discussion of associated delegated acts relating to
Organic Heterogeneous Material. OHM is broadly defined in the New Organic Regulation 2018/848/EU as ‘material with a high level of genetic diversity, intended for the market and for which DUS criteria (Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability) are not applicable.’ More detailed provisions are currently under discussion. Concepts, tools and implementation scenarios for the notification of OHM are the result of inquiries into scientific and practical experiences of LIVESEED partners and their extended network. Examples of crops that could potentially fall into the category of OHM are provided with specific focus on species that, unlike e.g. wheat, are not widely and publicly documented.

The report provides a summary of the SWOT analysis of possible tools for identification and
description of heterogeneous populations based on experiences of the EU temporary marketing experiment of wheat, barley, oats and maize. Secondly OHM is looked at in the context of a potentially confusing overlap between seed legislation and the new Organic Regulation. Thirdly the authors summarise the general requirements and the possible tools for characterisation of OHM that can be used in the notification process, alongside a proposed framework to forecast scenarios of application of these tools to three categories: Farmers’ Selections, Dynamic Populations and Composite Cross Populations (CCPs).

Costanzo A, Bickler C (2019) Proposal for a toolbox for identification and description of organic heterogeneous material. Liveseed D2.8

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