An overhaul of seed marketing rules should be delayed until the next parliamentary term, senior members of the centre-right European People’s Party group said in Strasbourg on Tuesday (10 December).
The European Commission proposed in May to streamline the production and marketing of plant reproductive material, combining 12 crop-specific directives into one regulation. The move was part of efforts to increase transparency in the agri-food chain, which also included traceability requirements for meat.
However, farmers have raised concerns that the proposal is designed to make it easier for the seed industry to patent and control the seed market. There has also been concern that the regulation would introduce genetically modified crops by the back door, by making GM seeds easier to authorise.
The Parliament’s agriculture committee is scheduled to vote on the proposal in January. But German MEP Albert Dess, the EPP’s representative on agricultural issues , said on Tuesday that the group will oppose this vote.
“Because this is such a complicated issue, it is going to be difficult to rush it,” he said.
“We are not in principle against the regulation, but we need to think it through properly and thoroughly,” he said. “Twelve directives into one might suggest that there would be less bureaucracy but in this case it’s the opposite.”
He added that the existing seed directives “are already working quite well”.
Farmers’ lobby group Copa-Cogeca has raised numerous concerns about the proposal, though it supports the aim of reducing red tape for farmers.
The European Seed Association, representing the seed industry, has said it hoped to see adoption of the legislation by the end of this parliamentary term.
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