Cereal populations – changes to EU rules to allow marketing of seed

ORC’s wheat populations are a completely different approach compared with modern varieties. They aim to maximise genetic diversity, to buffer against environ-mental variation, such as weather and diseases, and to give consistent yield. This causes difficulties for EU and UK seeds legislation, challenging the longstanding approach based on the concept of genetically uniform, identifiable and stable varieties. However, their potential has been recognised and the EU has recently agreed rules to allow limited marketing of populations of wheat and other cereals for five years, under specified controls to assure the traceability and quality of seed bought by farmers. The objectives are to get information on the benefits of populations compared with varieties, primarily in organic and low input production, and to assess the effectiveness of the controls. If the five-year marketing period confirms the benefits of populations, the EU will consider permanent changes to its seeds marketing legislation.


Theme: crop diversity
Published: 26th November 2014
Author: Andy Mitchell