b"certified organic conditions, farmers whoity food. The study acknowledges thatdifferent structures than the commer-want to work with open pollinated seeds,the current legislation hinders the con- cial seed industry, as they generally and/or farmers working in small acreagesservation and sustainable use of plantoperate as decentralised networks of with close ties to final consumers, as theygenetic resources. Building-up on it, theseed guardians, with differing levels of simply lack access to sufficient seedsEuropean Commission published in Junecentral coordination that can include adapted to their needs and local produc- 2021 the inception impact assessmentcapacity-building, training, aware-tion environments. And that diversityon the seed marketing reform5. Archeness-raising and advocacy activities, is ultimately still limited to bureaucraticNoah and ProSpecieRara understand theand also the sale of seeds and young niches, each of which comes with its ownCommission's outline as a realistic chanceplants. They are crucial for the con-set of restrictions, and the complexityfor a far-reaching change that makesservation and sustainable use of plant of the framework itself is prohibitive formore space for cultivated plant diversity.genetic resources. Their work should many smaller actors.  A reformedHowever, this positive change will onlyin no way be restrictedthey should seed marketing legislation must sup- be possible if the right conclusions aretherefore be out of the scope of the port, rather than discriminate against,drawn from the impact assessment andlegislation. intra-specific and intra-varietal diversity,option 2 is set as the basis for the seed Furthermore, the amateur garden-thereby supporting adaptation to climatelaw reform. ers market is very different than the change, the transition to a more climateindustrial crop production model and and environmentally friendly agriculture,does not require the strict criteria and local seed and food production, farmersguarantees stemming from the seed rights, and healthier diets. marketing legislation. It should be The broad coalition found consensusout of the scope so that conservation for general principles that should findwork can be done without barriers. echo in the new legislation. For example: Pre-marketing DUS tests and seedThe scope of the seed marketinglot certification make no sense for legislation should be delineated bynon-professional users. They need and a strict definition of seed marketinglook for other criteria when buying limited to commercial activities tar- seeds for their gardens or pots.geting professional seed users. The2. Legislation prevents innova-seed marketing legislation should nottion and use of new technologies and in any way regulate the on farm andadaptation to policy developmentsin garden conservation, sustainableThe Commission notes that the current use and dynamic management of cul- VCU/DUS are not yet adapted to the tivated plant diversity, including seedneeds of organic varieties suitable for exchanges between farmers and gar- organic cultivation. And they recognise deners that are either for free or onlyfurther: When the requirements and charge reimbursement of expenses.Diversity in beans at Arche Noah. costs for registering conservation and There should be no register of oper- amateur varieties are identical to those of ators. new varieties, there may be little incentiveThe seed marketing legislationfor seed conservation networks and other should provide freedom of choice forThe Commission has identified theoperators active in this domain to regis-farmers and growers, both regardingright, essential problems:ter conservation and amateur varieties, seeds (species, varieties, populations)1.Divergentimplementation. In addition, the current legislation and regarding production standards. practices and non-level playing field restricts increasing consumer demandsRegistration based on DUS andThe Commission acknowledges thatfor these traditional and local varieties VCU testing, when chosen, needs to[s]ome Directives do not have specificdue to production limits imposed by the be adapted and proportionate to theinstruments for protecting conservationexisting legislation.needs and realities of the diversevarieties and that [t]he definitions of ProSpecieRara and Arche Noah range of breeders, developers, andmarketing and operator are ambiguousfully support adapted DUS and VCU test maintainers, as well as their custom- in certain Directives or missing in othersfor organic varieties and believe that the ers. and leave it open if the activities of seedintroduction of heterogeneous materialThe legislation should ensure trans- conservation networks are covered by the(OHM) and organic varieties in the new parency over breeding methods andPRM legislation or not, and -if so- to whatOrganic Regulation were ground-breaking intellectual property rights for allextent. The Commission especially rec- steppingstones that should pave the way seeds placed on the market. ognises that [a]mateur gardeners haveforward for the seed marketing legisla-different uses and motivations comparedtion. The mindset of the OHM notification OUR REPLY TO THE INCEPTIONto professional users and this raises theregime should be used for inspiration in IMPACT ASSESSMENT BY THEquestion if PRM marketed to amateur gar- the creation of more space for different COMMISSION deners should be subject to the same rulestypes of plant material catering to specific AttheendofAprilthisyear,theas PRM marketed to professional users. needs in the EU. To not further restrict European Commission published a Arche Noah and ProSpecieRara wel- the increasing demand for traditional and study on options for modernizing thecome that the Commission has recog- local varieties by consumers and farmers seed legislation. It describes PRM as thenised those essential problems. Seedand align lighter requirements across the beginning of the agricultural productionconservation networks (which couldEU, there should be one lighter notifica-chain and thus essential for the availa- include farmers and gardeners) worktion regime for diversity varieties without bility of diverse, healthy, and high-qual- following a different aim and with veryproduction or geographical limits.18IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM"