|An Independent Seed Market|
February 24, 2005
An Independent Seed Market
In times of genetic engineering and patents an independent seed-market for the organic movement is absolutely necessary – but breeding is time-consuming and costly. “For the first time the young movement of organic plant breeding in Germany was supported by 2.300.000 € in 2004 – a fine start for a big task”, said Cornelia Wiethaler, agravivendi gGmbH Project Office for international AgriCulture. “As the organic movement has to reject GMOs by law we need more future steps from the organic traders, processors and consumers for independent organic plant breeding now!”, said Bernward Geier, Director for International Relationships, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), on the agravivendi-Symposium An independent Seed Market on the World Organic Trade Fair BioFach in Nuremberg, Germany, on 24th February 2005.
“Diversity in organic breeding is the most important request for the
organic movement and for farmers all around the world”, stressed Dr.
Vandana Shiva from India, Winner of the alternative Nobel-Price. „The
introduction of Bt-seeds is an act of terrorism for the farmers in
India. We urgently need counterbalances. Farmers and consumers must
have free access to varieties of high quality which can do without
expensive pesticides. Under no circumstances must the access to seeds
be blocked by patent rights or hybrid-techniques. In the long run this
will really help to fight hunger in less developed countries. And it
will help to save biodiversity and fight climatic changes”.
What is Organic Plant Breeding?
Seeds, simply bred under organic conditions. Using a broader genetic diversity, evolving from diverse breeding programmes and many hands, adapted to local conditions. Improved self healing and self managing skills of the plants. Intuitively bred, scientifically based. No patents, no hybrid techniques but good taste and vital quality.
What Does it Offer?
Access to vital quality of organic products to meet consumers increasing demands for natural food. Better fitting of the plants in organic farming systems. Maintenance of the organic quality system. Protection of a clean gene-pool of crop plants for conventional GMO-free agriculture.
What Does it Mean for the Society of Europe?
Guarantee of farmer’s and consumer’s free choice. Protection of GMOfree agriculture and food-production. Keeping an independent seed market. Support of the European Unity in diversity. “The treasure of diversity of seeds and species of Europe gives a picture of the value of European culture. It’s a key issue for sustainable rural development,” said Cornelia Wiethaler. No need for agrochemicals, which are produced with a lot of fossile oil, releasing CO². This is a contribution to climate change.
What Does EU Agricultural Policy Offer?
The Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union has orientated from simple production support measures of the postwar situation towards quality production, environmental and social standards. “Decoupling of financial supports from production now sets farmers free for a greater range of species on their fields,” explained Philippe Tabary, Member of the General Direction Agriculture of the European Commission. To what extent the Commission will, however, translate the noble aims into action finally depends on the Member States, the countries and of course the consumers.
What is Going on in Germany?
The Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Nutrition and Agriculture (BMVEL) has been investing 930.000 € for organic plant breeding research and organic breeding. “Private foundations and organic enterprises like Alnatura, Sativa Rheinau, Bingenheimer Saatgut AG, Denree and others paid 1.200.000 €”, said Cornelia Roeckl from the Foundation for Future Farming. Additional and very important: companies like ErdmannHauser and Bauck invested a lot of their own means for logistical efforts like separated storage, transport and processing of the new organically bred varieties. In 2003 seven organic varieties were newly registered only in Germany and Switzerland. In the same time about 10 new GM-varieties were registered world-wide. The development of a plant is extremely expensive. For example breeding a wheat variety usually costs 500.000 € - 1.500.000 €.
Up to now only vegetables, potatoes and cereals are part of organic breeding programs. Licence fees for organic varieties being cultivated on small areas, don´t show enough profit. “If we really want to have an independent seed market we have to find a way how to decouple the earnings of the breeders from licence-, patent- and reproduction fees and how to let them directly flow into breeding”, explained Cornelia Wiethaler.
For the long term 50 million. € /per annum should flow into organic breeding. This is not much in relation to the official expenses of 100.000.000 € from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for GM-breeding researches only for the plant genome-research program (“GABI”).
The results are not only significant for organic farms but in the long term also for the whole gmo-free agriculture and the nutrition industry,” said Georg Janssen, Federal Manager of the ABL. Farmers can keep their cultivation methods free from chemical fertilizers and pesticides and so save money and work environmentally friendly. The natural resistances of plants are also relating to a sound development and capability of human beings.
The event was supported by the European Commission, DG AGRI.
|© IFOAM - International Federation of Organic Agriculture|