Seed protection and GM free seed supply

B4 - Sunday 13:30 - 15:00


The basis of GMO-free agriculture in Europe is GMO-free seeds. While the purity of seeds has been widely guaranteed thus far, there are ongoing attempts and massive corporate lobbying to establish EU thresholds for “adventitious and technically unavoidable” GM-contamination of seeds, which would render GMO-free breeding and seed reproduction practically impossible. For most crops large distances between GM crops and non-GM seed reproduction would be required. If GM crops are cultivated in a region, will GMO-free seed production only be possible in dedicated and protected non-GM zones?  The workshop will focus on the necessary legal and practical requirements of GMO-free seed reproduction and breeding, and specific problems for small and medium sized seed companies, farmers and gardeners.

However GMOs are but one threat to the free use and exchange of seeds by farmers and gardeners. Prohibitive costs for the approval of new varieties and increasingly restrictive control of seed reproduction by farmers are other challenges. In addition most new varieties inscribed in the Common Seed Catalogue today are hybrids, unfit for further breeding and reproduction. Finally “Terminator seeds”, manipulated to yield only infertile offspring, have been patented by GMO companies. While such constructs were banned by the UN Community after global protest, a new attempt to legalise Terminator seeds is now being launched at the UN Convention of Biological Diversity – some companies and governments argue that artificially sterile seeds could reduce the risk of contamination.


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Key participants and speakers:

Siegrid Herbst (GM-free seed, Germany)

Guy Kastler (French Peasant Seed Network, France)
The contamination of seeds by GMO is a weapon of massive destruction of country and biological agricultures.
La contamination des semences par des OGM est une arme de destruction massive des agricultures paysannes et biologiques.

Andreas Thommen (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, FiBL, Switzerland)
GMO Contamination in Organic Seeds (German with English Summary)


Background Documents

Ban Terminator
Website of the Ban Terminator Campaign with background material, news and a Terminator-specific glossary

(December 2004)
Coexistence Regulations of the European Union Member States
This tabel gives an overview over the different coexistence regulations in EU member states: the type of the regulation, good technical practices that need to be fulfilled, liabilities and whether or how neighbours need to be informed.

EU (1998)
EU directive 98/95/EC on seed legislation with respect to genetically modified plant varieties and plant genetic resources

EU (1992)
EU regulation 1992/2081 on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs

Greenpeace (December 2004)
Austrian “Purity Requirement” successful for past three years
This fact sheet outlines the history of the Austrian seed purity regulation, explains the legal requirements and summarises the experience of the first three years from 2001 to 2004.

"Save our Seeds"
Memorandum regarding the planned EU directive on seed contamination
The European Union's planned Directive regarding the adventitious presence of genetically modified organisms in Seeds.
A memorandum that shows why the proposed contamination levels for seeds would impose unacceptable costs, risks and management measures upon the entire food production chain and threaten the recently established community system for approval, labelling and traceability of GMO. With Ten arguments for clean seeds

"Save our Seeds" homepage with all background information on EU seed legislation

Protection and enhanement of local breeds and varieties of interest to farming, animal husbandry and forestry
Regional bill no. 369 of the region of Tuscany, Italy

Michael Miersch
Thesis paper: legal cases on reproduction (seed multiplication)

1. The case in front of the Court of Europe with the number C-305/00 Schulin./. Saatgut-Treuhandverwaltungs GmbH is about the question, when and what information a farmer has to give a seed company - judgement / opinion

2.The case C-336/02 Saatgut-Treuhandverwaltungs GmbH ./. Brangewitz ist about the question, when and what information a company has to give a seed company, which operated as a supplier of processing services for the farmers. This company are cleaning, sorting and disinfecting the plant varieties for the farmers - judgement / opinion