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Food and Feed Safety (24-06-2008)

Commission adopts proposal that will help preserve biodiversity

The Commission adopted on Friday June 20 a proposal that will help preserve biodiversity. Member States had already endorsed the proposal in mid April. The proposal to protect seed varieties of agricultural crops, which may be threatened by genetic erosion, will also enable small plant breeding companies to supply local markets with naturally adapted seed varieties. These seed varieties are mostly old locally used varieties threatened by extinction.

The proposal foresees derogations from the EU seed marketing legislation for seed varieties that are naturally adapted to local conditions, but which currently cannot be marketed because they do not fulfil certain criteria. Under EU legislation, seed varieties must undergo an approval process and get listed on the national and common seed catalogues before they can be marketed within the territory of the EU. These rules ensure that EU farmers have access to high quality seed. Certain varieties, which are not found on these catalogues, are still important to ensure that plant genetic diversity is not diminished. The Commission has therefore proposed that these varieties could be placed on the catalogues without official examination, once they meet some minimum standards.

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