Commission embraces agricultural biodiversity?

by Luigi Guarino on June 24, 2008

This news item out of the European Commission seems to be very important, so I think I’m justified in reproducing it in full below, especially as the specific item does not yet have a url all to itself (though there is a fairly general one):

The Commission adopted on Friday June 20 a proposal that will help preserve biodiversity. Member States had already endorsed the proposal in mid April. The proposal to protect seed varieties of agricultural crops, which may be threatened by genetic erosion, will also enable small plant breeding companies to supply local markets with naturally adapted seed varieties. These seed varieties are mostly old locally used varieties threatened by extinction.

The proposal foresees derogations from the EU seed marketing legislation for seed varieties that are naturally adapted to local conditions, but which currently cannot be marketed because they do not fulfil certain criteria. Under EU legislation, seed varieties must undergo an approval process and get listed on the national and common seed catalogues before they can be marketed within the territory of the EU. These rules ensure that EU farmers have access to high quality seed. Certain varieties, which are not found on these catalogues, are still important to ensure that plant genetic diversity is not diminished. The Commission has therefore proposed that these varieties could be placed on the catalogues without official examination, once they meet some minimum standards.

Jeremy has blogged several times about this. I guess the devil will be in the detail, but it does look encouraging. Anyone have more information?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Eliseu Bettencourt June 24, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Good news!! Almost a year ago (July 2007) I posted on this matter. It took too long, since 1998 !!, the first Council Directive and drafts prepared in 2002 and 2003, but finally is out

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Bert Visser June 26, 2008 at 8:01 am

The news on the adoption by the European Commision is indeed important news, but not all is rosy.
The negotiations took so long because of the fears of the private sector that this regulation would open a backdoor for varieties not meeting the formal marketing requirements in the EU. The result that is published now is a watered-down legislation. Conservation varietiesa re defined as landraces and varieties whcih are naturally adapted to the local and and regional conditions and threatened by genetic erosion. Landraces are defined as a set of populations or clones of a plant species whcih are naturally adapted to the environmental conditions of their region. These are key provisions from the draft Direction:
– Member States may adopt their own provisions as regards distinctness, stability and uniformity of conservation varieties.
– The Member State shall identify the region or regions in which the variety has historically been grown and to which it is naturally adapted.
– Member States shall ensure that seed of a conservation variety may only be produced in the region of origin.
– Member States shall ensure that the seed of a conservation variety may only be marketed if marketing takes place inits region of origin.
– Member States shall ensure that for each conservation variety the quantity of seed marketed does not exceed 0.5% of the seed of the same species used in that Member State in one growing season, or a quantity necessary to sow 100 ha, whichever is the greater quantity.
– The total quantity of seed of conservation varieties marketed in each Member State shall not exceed 10% of the seed of the species concerned uesd yearly in that Member State.
Severe limitations for the distribution of conservation varieties are the consequence of this Directive. Much depends on the definition of region, which I do not know. Less than hoped for, but it is better than nothing.

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