Organic Regulation / Feb. 2020

Sprouts from Brussel

Drafting of the Delegated and Implementing Acts on seeds progresses

 Adopted in 2018, and entering into force in January 2021, the Organic Regulation offers considerable advances for the marketing of organic seeds, either from “organic heterogeneous material”, or from “organic varieties”, while changing the derogations for the use of conventional seeds in organic agriculture. The European Commission has received sizable delegated and implementing powers in the Regulation, which will result in the adoption of Commission Regulations. These texts are negotiated by the European Commission and the Group of Experts on Organic Production, which is comprised of Member States experts, with no direct involvement from stakeholders. While the lead is with the Directorate General for Agriculture (DG AGRI, Unit Organic), which negotiates with the national experts, the technical work is done by Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE, Unit Plant Health). The Expert Group on Organics last met on 20th January 2020, and discussed two important draft texts with regards to seeds: a draft Regulation setting out rules governing the production and marketing of plant reproductive material of organic heterogeneous material, and a draft Regulation on the use of in-conversion and non-organic plant reproductive material. Both texts are available online, and national experts are invited to send their comments before the next meeting, which will be held on 2nd March 2020. Interested stakeholders should contact their national authorities to submit their comments on the drafts. With regards to organic heterogeneous material, the latest draft applies to all crop species, and includes a multilayered description of the material, considering both so-called historical material and more innovative populations. While the quality standards of the seeds marketing Directive remain applicable, Member States have insisted to have considerable post-marketing controls in place, and favour broad field inspection powers, an aspect which was not present in the first Commission drafts. 

Preparatory talks on the temporary experiment on organic varieties 

The European Commission has also started background work for the temporary experiment that will be launched at the latest in July 2021 to determine alternatives for the registration of “organic varieties”. The main idea is to assess the issues that exist with existing DUS and VCU protocols used for variety registration, and propose alternatives, whether as a stand-alone system, or as an amendment to the general protocols.