History & recent developments

Saatgut-Tausch, selbstgewonnenes Saatgut von ARCHE NOAH ErhalterInnen (c) Doris Steinböck

Colourful diversity, not standardized uniformity!

On 25 February 2015 the European Commission withdrew its proposal for a new seed marketing regulation. Previous to that, the European Parliament had rejected this very proposal. The ball is now with the European Commission to in the future put forward new proposals facilitating, not hindering, biodiversity.

In 2014, about 900,000 people across European Union signed petitions against the proposed seed marketing regulation. In Austria alone, the home of ARCHE NOAH, more than 500,000 people raised their voices against standardised uniformity. Together with ARCHE NOAH and GLOBAL 2000 they spoke up loud for “freedom for diversity”, to save rare peasant seeds and plant varieties. 


common call

NGO CALL for ambitious reform of the EU PRM marketing law

The European Commission has withdrawn the Barroso proposal on the EU Plant Reproductive Material (PRM) Marketing Law of 2013. Following this decision, the signatories of this letter would like to encourage the European Commission to grasp the historic opportunity to conduct an ambitious reform of the EU PRM marketing law, ensuring that it is effectively “fit for purpose” and responds to all connected cross-cutting issues. Read the Call.

Building Strassbourg Bild: European Parliament Audiovisual Services

The EU Commission withdraws the EU seeds regulation

In the end of February '15 the EU Commission finally formally withdrew the draft seed marketing regulation, one year after the Parliament rejected it. "I am very pleased that our joint efforts have led to this success and thank all supporters very much," says Christian Schrefel, former chairman of ARCHE NOAH. "This result shows that civic engagement can lead politicians and authorities to reason." Should the EU Commission draw up a new proposal, ARCHE NOAH would actively support a fundamental reorientation of the EU legislation on the marketing of seeds and other plant propagating material. See our comment.


Industrial crops by law?

On May 6, 2013 the draft for a new EU seed regulation was launched despite huge public protest. If the new EU seed regulation had been adopted, it would have meant huge administrative hurdles and strong biological limitations. It would have threatened local varieties, ignored the costumers' freedom of choice and forced the interests of the agribusiness. The seed regulation was tailored to serve corporate interests and restricted non industrial plants to tiny and bureaucratic niches. The message was clear: Diversity and farmers’ seeds must be an exception; industrial crops must be the rule. 

Gardeners, farmers and growers exchange their seeds because of their interest in old, rare or particular varieties of vegetables and crops. Some seed swaps and seed exchange would have become illegal with the now rejected seed regulation. It was planned that growers who want to pass on their own seeds or other propagating material would have to register as “operators”. Also, the plants would have to undergo "registration". These tests had been designed for industrial varieties; most old and rare varieties are not able to fulfil the registration criteria for biological reasons.


What will happen next?

Arche Noah’s persistent efforts to eliminate the biodiversity-threatening, big business-friendly draft have paid off! For now small scale farmers, producers and consumers can give a sigh of relief! But civil society must remain vigilant. We now have more work to get started on, as the challenge becomes assuring a new draft that promotes--instead of harms--agro-biodiversity, consumer choice and small-farmers’ rights. This is the Seed Policy Team’s priority and we’re up to the challenge!


Want to help us?

Here you will find information on how you can take action.

If you want to stay updated about European seed laws go here (in German).

ARCHE NOAH (Noha’s Ark), a seed savers’ organisation in Austria, and its 13,000 members call for a new seed marketing regulation draft that is sustainable and inclusive.