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European Alliance of Initiatives
for Applied Anthroposophy

Who owns the seeds?

Citizens, farmers and growers challenged by EU seed law.

Dear Friends of the ELIANT Alliance,

in the view of biodynamic growers and farmers, the EU’s proposed Plant Reproductive Material Law prevents seeds from being, and remaining, common property as required. However, current (legal) attitudes regard seeds as commercial goods. The latest draft of the bill offers very few development options for sustainable farming and agricultural biodiversity.

Seeds are common property

On 22 January 2014, the Brussels EU liaison office of Demeter International and ELIANT organised a conference on the EU’s new Plant Reproductive Material Law with the participation of allied partners IFOAM EU, ARCHE NOAH, ECO-PB, Kultur-Saat, Network Economy Group, Saat-Gut e.V., Réseau Semences Paysannes, Peliti and Bread for the World.

Below are some key points from this conference:

  • Seeds are a public good.
  • The EU’s proposed seed law must be publicly discussed and at sufficient length. Internal discussions between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council do not suffice.
  • Reproducible seeds, meaning varieties that farmers can propagate themselves – as opposed to today’s conventional hybrid varieties – require fair market access.
  • The legislation must therefore be adapted to the specific requirements for organic varieties, so that heirloom seed savers and amateur growers on organic farms are also able to continue their work in freedom.
  • Additionally, research must be oriented towards ‘systematic breeding’ in which farmers and citizens can also participate, not just researchers and growers.

Conference summary

It is of the utmost importance that NGOs and private citizens actively join in the decision-making process, which requires greater public relations work. Please do your part by communicating this newsletter throughout your circle of friends and acquaintances.

Public seed festivals are planned for October in at least seven European capitals. ELIANT will publicise the planned activities as soon as the details become clear.

Decision by the European Parliament

A major success came when the European Parliament rejected the draft of the EU seed law on 11 March 2014. Unfortunately the Commission has not withdrawn the bill – now the European Council must decide how to proceed. If it supports the Parliament in this matter, then the bill is off the table. If it expands the bill together with the Commission then the discussion will begin all over again. We have to prepare for that and boost our public relations work.


The general nature of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is characterised by excessive dominance by and promotion of competitive attitudes, in regard to seeds in particular. We encourage European citizens to work with us towards achieving a new European agricultural model, a model based on seeds as a public good, promoting sustainable quality for agricultural products and their cultivation, as well as seed biodiversity.

We’re counting on you!
With our best regards
On behalf of the ELIANT team
Dr. med. Michaela Glöckler und Susanna Küffer Heer