SOLIBAM recommendations on seed laws

Policy recommendations for legal aspects of seed certification and protection of Plant Breeders’ Rights and Farmers’ Rights

This booklet sets out policy recommendations for legal aspects of seed certification and protection of Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) and Farmers Rights (FR) in the context of the SOLIBAM strategies, which are innovative sustainable strategies involving plant breeding, crop management and processing based on participatory research and diversity at all levels in organic and low inputs agricultural systems. This document is based on results from studies within a workpackage related to environmental, economic and social sustainability (WP8-Deliverable 8.7). It draws on work within SOLIBAM as a whole and is informed by work by others. It is written within a changing situation in Europe regarding plant propagating material regulations. The current regulatory framework is mostly tailored for intensive agriculture and locks low-input varieties out of the market and field through mandatory regulatory standards that are neither needed, desirable nor helpful for many low-input varieties.

The SOLIBAM project organised a number of workshops on seed laws and regulations both in Europe and Africa to present the preliminary outcomes of the project and check with experts on possible solutions. SOLIBAM worked with the COBRA project and ECO-PB to gain an overview of EU seed companies’ breeding strategies for the organic sector and their viewpoints about organic seed production. This showed that the growth in organic seed sales was greatest in France, UK, Germany and Austria and that the breeders believed that there would continue to be a moderate growth in the market. The main obstacle for developing a dedicated organic plant breeding programme was economic but also the lack of rules for organic seed registration.

SOLIBAM identified three key words that should be at the cornerstone of future agricultural policies: Diversity, Innovation and Embedding in place. These keywords are also in line with the main findings of research that had foreseen different types of varieties for different agricultural systems. SOLIBAM identified how these key words, or their meanings, can be found within the new regulation proposal for preparatory material but also undermines some of the pillars of current seed laws. In order to deal with seed issues, SOLIBAM named and adopted a Seed System approach, a useful tool for considering varieties in a broader view that encompasses marketing but also research (innovation), exchange and cultivation.
This booklet also contains a number of policy recommendations that SOLIBAM is endorsing covering Seed Policies (scope of a marketing regulation, variety registration, Value for Cultivation and Use – VCU testing and seed certification); Balance between Intellectual property rights (IPRs) and Farmers’ Rights (FRs); How to finance organic/alternative breeding and North-South cooperation.

Booklet 5- SOLIBAM recommendations on seed laws

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