Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

FARMSEEDOPORTUNITIES — Result In Brief

Project ID: 44345
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: France

A rescue plan for local produce

The EU has acknowledged that strict standards may have harmed the diversity of local agriculture and produce across Europe. It is now aiming to protect local and regional cultivars through new legislation.
A rescue plan for local produce
Laws for marketing seeds in the EU are endangering local varieties and cultivars, prompting a need to conserve the richness of Europe in this respect. The EU-funded project 'Opportunities for farm seed conservation, breeding and production' (Farmseedopportunities) has heeded the call to support agro-biodiversity. It looked at how to facilitate certification and marketing of seeds to conserve genetic resources and turn the clock back from uniform, genetically undifferentiated production.

Project researchers assessed the needs of stakeholders regarding diversity of varieties. It looked at issues surrounding on-farm breeding, seed production and regional agricultural systems, clarifying confusing definitions and aspects such as landrace, traditional production and local production.

Farmseedopportunities then elaborated recommendations for the release of seeds of landraces, conservation, plant breeding and small-scale local varieties. It outlined regulatory models covering distinction, uniformity and stability for the different situations and conditions in Europe, closely considering the rights and needs of breeders and farmers involved.

To take these recommendations a step further, the project conducted several workshops in different European countries on relevant subjects. These included organic farming, alternative agricultural systems, participatory plant breeding and other key concepts in the domain. Pilot field tests ensued on wheat, maize, bean and spinach, involving 25 farms in France, Italy and the Netherlands.

Seeking to enlighten consumers on research in this direction and mobilise society, the project encouraged once again demand for locally produced food and promote conservation of endangered varieties. These trials, workshops, recommendations and outreach initiatives may pull us back from the brink of over-harmonisation and enable Europe to reclaim its agricultural biodiversity.

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