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Kritiek op voorstel Europese Commissie voor zadenwetgeving

Op 6 mei 2013 heeft de Europese Commissie na maanden van onderhandelingen en lobbywerk haar uiteindelijke voorstel voor de nieuwe Europese regelgeving voor zaai- en pootgoed gepresenteerd. De afgelopen weken hebben maatschappelijke organisaties en ‘seed savers’ over dit onderwerp voor veel ophef gezorgd. Veel mensen hebben petities ondertekend en het onderwerp was in diverse landen volop in de media. Dit heeft de uiteindelijke versie van de tekst van de Europese Commissie ongetwijfeld hebben beïnvloed. Maar over het algemeen genomen is het nog steeds een slecht voorstel dat niet in het voordeel is van de biodiversiteit en de kleinschalige veredelaars, zaadbedrijfjes en individuele ‘seed savers’.

Veel organisaties hebben afgelopen dagen op de tekst gereageerd. Hier kun je een selectie van deze reacties vinden. Het meeste is (nog) in het Engels. Als eerste commentaar van the Real Seed Catalogue uit het Verenigd Koninkrijk. Aansluitend een persbericht van Arche Noah en Global 2000, dat een goed overzicht geeft alle problemen. Als derde is er het Nederlandstalige persbericht van Bionext, de Nederlandse ketenorganisatie voor duurzame, biologische landbouw en voeding.

(Meer over het onderwerp en wat er de afgelopen weken is gebeurd kun je lezen in het artikel ‘Ophef over Europese zadenwetgeving – kom in actie!‘)

New EU Plant Law diminishes seed supply for home gardeners, restricts farmers’crops

On Monday May 6th a draconian new law was put before the European Commission, which creates new powers to classify and regulate all plant life anywhere in Europe.

The “Plant Reproductive Material Law” regulates all plants. It contains immediate restrictions on vegetables and woodland trees, while creating powers to restrict all other plants of any other species at a later date.

Under the new law, it will immediately be illegal to grow, reproduce or trade any vegetable seed or tree that has not been tested and approved by a new “EU Plant Variety Agency, who will make a list of approved plants. Moreover, an annual fee must also be paid to the Agency to keep them on the list, and if not paid, they cannot be grown.

Following a huge outcry and intense lobbying from consumer groups, small-scale farmers, genebanks, and even some member-state governements, a few last-minute alterations were made, which while not perfect, have reduced the impact quite a lot.

The key last minute concessions that were made – and this really was only due to public pressure, because they were not in the draft just 3 days previously – are as follows:

  • Home gardeners are now permitted to save and swap unapproved seed without breaking the law.
  • Individuals & small organisations can grow and supply/sell unapproved vegetable seed – as long as they have less than 10 employees.
  • Seedbanks can grow unapproved seed without breaking the law.
  • There could be easier (in an unspecified way) rules for large producers of seeds suitable for organic agriculture etc, in some (unspecified) future legislation – maybe.

But the rest of the law is still overly restrictive, and in the long run will make it much harder for people to get hold of good seeds they want to grow at home. There are also clauses that mean the above concessions could be removed in the future without coming back to the Parliament for a vote.

Taken from http://www.realseeds.co.uk/seedlaw.html


ARCHE NOAH and GLOBAL 2000: Restrictive and complicated proposal for a regulation on seed and plant propagating material needs fundamental changes.

Vienna, 7.5.2013: Yesterday, the European Commission presented the official proposal for a regulation on seeds and propagating material (S&PM). An in-depth analysis of ARCHE NOAH, an association for conservation and diffusion of agro-biodiversity, as well as GLOBAL 2000, turned out negative: A main demand of many actors from all over Europe, the removal of obligatory official registration of varieties, has not been met. This would, however, be the most direct and most unbuerocratic way of promoting biodiversity, of disburdening small enterprises und state budgets, and of securing freedom of choice for consumers, says Heidemarie Porstner, agriculture officer of GLOBAL 2000. Excessive statutory requirements for the marketing of S&PM do not serve public interest, but only give competitive advantages to big transnational corporations.

Beate Koller, director of ARCHE NOAH, analyses: „The primary goal of the S&PM regulation is raising the productivity and intensifying an industrialised, export-oriented agriculture. Against this backdrop, the intended exceptions for niche markets and old varieties do not amount to more than a window dressing and are not suited to stop the loss of biological diversity.”

The regulation’s exceptions for allowing diversity, when analysed in details, turn out ridicule: Historical, geographical and quantitative restrictions for old and rare varieties imply barriers for diversity and its potential. However, adaptability and further development are main components for keeping cultivated plants alive, explains agriculture officer Porstner. Given rising demand for rare varieties, it’s a parody to try to explain to consumers that limiting the supply is meant to protect them. The opposite is true: In a first step, supply is being massively restricted, and secondly, consumer’s choice as well.

For decades, disproportionately strict rules have been governing the EU seed market. Now the moment has come to fundamentally put these biodiversity-hostile provisions into question. Neither from the perspective of agriculture, nor from the perspective of consumers it is comprehensible why seeds have to be officially registered in costly procedures like a dangerous drug before being allowed to enter the market. The public benefit of these procedures is highly questionable, says Koller.

The so-called DUS-test on distinctiveness, uniformity and stability presses cultivated plants into a technical-juridical corset. The motivation is, however, not to serve the interests of farmers, but allowing plant breeding companies to obtain an exclusive plant variety protection for their newly bred varieties (which is not the issue the proposed regulation is dealing with). Since many modern varieties are genetically very similar, the demands on uniformity are often absurdely high; at the same time, high plant uniformity is strongly questionable from an ecological point of view. “Why is it that breeders and farmers who are neither aiming at plant variety right protection nor breeding for industrial agriculture still have to bring their plants through the same procedure?”, Koller is asking.

Actors neither working with old varieties that are already known on the market nor aiming at plant variety right protection, could under the proposed regulation continue his or her activities under paragraph 36 for niche markets. This is only true, however, for small enterprises with less than 10 employees and a yearly business volume of less than 2 million Euro. Seeds and plant propagating material may only be sold in small quantities and solely to end-consumers. Additionally, the commission wants to secure its right to decree the concrete requirements on packaging, labelling and even the way of marketing through a delegating act at any given moment. This could de facto render this niche so complicated and bureaucratic that it would not offer a real space for concerned enterprises.

“What is this all about?”, Heidi Porstner of GLOBAL 2000 is asking. Dissemination of non-industrial varieties should have been liberated since a long time. Civil law offers adequate protection for consumers, in the realm of food laws a truthful labelling is deemed satisfactory, and in gastronomy the recipe for making Viennese schnitzel does not have to be accorded with the authorities either.

ARCHE NOAH director Beate Koller the scope of the proposed regulation. “In the proposal, we are missing a clear limitation of the regulation to the marketing of S&PM with a view to commercial exploitation and above certain quantities. The requirements are absolutely disproportionate,” she emphasizes. The proposal applies to the dissemination of non-registered plants between farmers and from farmers to private persons. Farmers would have to register themselves as “operators” and comply with a range of requirements; otherwise they risk an administrative fine. “This comes down to suppressing an age-old practice of peasant farming, which up to today has been the most important motor in developing today’s diversity of cultivated plants,” Koller critizices.

The new EU-regulation, as a matter of fact, leaves no space for national derogations. Heidemarie Porstner also sees deficits in the democratic procedure: “Many important aspects are supposed to be decided upon by the commission in the aftermath and behind closed doors via so-called delegated acts. That way, many details are withdrawn from democratic control aiming for the common welfare.”

Beate Koller worries about a future export of these restrictive legislation to non-EU-countries, resulting in a criminalisation of farmers in developing countries. “Through trade agreements, we do not only export seeds, but also our laws to other countries. Especially in countries where seeds are produced by farmers and not corporations the planned regulation would be a desaster.” It should be considered that farmer-produced seeds amount to feeding seventy percent of the world’s population.

Koller and Porstner agree: “This proposal urgently needs to be revised. The EU-commission’s only reaction to international pressure from civil society were cosmetic changes, but the fundamental critique of the proposal has not been considered. We are determined to monitor the proposal’s further development in order to prevent the agroindustrial lobby from causing a catastrophy.”

link to Arche Noah: http://saatgutpolitik.arche-noah.at


Uniformiteit in rassen centraal, genetische diversiteit alleen als uitzondering
Europese Commissie presenteert voorstel voor zaadwetgeving

Zeist, 7 mei 2013 – Op 6 mei heeft de Europese Commissie voorstellen goedgekeurd voor nieuwe regels over de productie en het op de markt brengen van zaaizaad en pootgoed én voor regels op het gebied van plantgezondheid en de controle daarop. Bionext is teleurgesteld dat de Europese commissie niet ondubbelzinnig heeft gekozen voor het vergroten van de biodiversiteit in de landbouw. Weliswaar worden de regels voor de verkoop van “rassen die van belang zijn voor het behoud van genetische diversiteit” iets verruimd, maar het gaat daarbij nog steeds alleen om kleine hoeveelheden van oude landrassen en amateurrassen. Alle nieuwe commerciële rassen die op de markt worden gebracht moeten nog steeds voldoen aan de strenge eisen voor uniformiteit.

De huidige zaadwetgeving biedt nu weinig mogelijkheden om rassen op de markt te brengen die niet zo uniform zijn maar wel veel genetische variatie bevatten. Bijvoorbeeld lokaal aangepaste rassen en rassen die door boerenveredelaars ontwikkeld zijn. Daarom heeft Bionext samen met haar koepelorganisatie IFOAM zich het afgelopen jaar al ingezet voor aanpassingen van de conceptvoorstellen van de zaadwetgeving ten gunste van biologische veredelaars en boerenrassen. Maaike Raaijmakers, projectleider biologisch uitgangsmateriaal bij Bionext: “Het hele voorstel straalt uit dat uniforme rassen voor de hoogproductieve landbouw de standaard blijven, dat er alleen uitzonderingen mogelijk zijn ten behoeve van het behoud van genetische diversiteit.” Zo biedt het nieuwe voorstel de mogelijkheid om bij wijze van uitzondering meer heterogeen materiaal toe te laten maar het is nog niet duidelijk onder welke voorwaarden. Ook moet het volgens de Commissie mogelijk worden om zadenmengsels op de markt te brengen maar is het aan individuele lidstaten om hierover te besluiten.

Doel van de nieuwe wetgeving is onder andere om de administratieve lasten voor bedrijven te verminderen en een gelijk speelveld te creëren voor zaadbedrijven en veredelaars in alle sectoren. De huidige zaadwetgeving bestaat uit 12 gewasspecifieke Richtlijnen en is erg ingewikkeld en duur in de uitvoering. De voorstellen zullen pas van kracht worden nadat ze ook door het Europese Parlement en de Raad zijn aangenomen. Ook moeten de voorstellen nog nader uitgewerkt worden in uitvoeringsbepalingen. Wat er van de uitzonderingsmogelijkheden in de praktijk terecht komt zal sterk afhangen van de nadere uitwerking van dit wetsvoorstel in de meer gedetailleerde uitvoeringsregels. Bionext zal haar lobby voor een meer diverse zaadwetgeving daarom voorzetten en haar standpunt, in samenwerking met koepelorganisatie IFOAM, de komende maanden onder de aandacht brengen bij het Europese Parlement.

Link naar Bionext: http://www.bionext.nl


The campaign against this EU legislation is not over. It will be discussed in the parliament and probably there the text will be adjusted again. And in the in the parliament will have to vote about the proposal. This means that also the campaign against this proposal and for biodiversity and the possibilities to save, exchange and sell all  kind of seeds will continue.