|In their The Market for Organic and Ecological Seed in Canada report, COTA compiles the major challenges to achieving organic seed security, high among them being the lack of large breeder investment in genetic advancements for organic varieties in Canada . Royalties paid by organic growers are usually invested in non-organic plant breeding, and often even varieties developed using GE techniques.
Seeds and seed breeding need to be in the hands of farmers in partnership with both public and private breeding programs. Public breeding plays a vital role in developing varieties that have been immensely useful for organic farmers. Research and development for seed improvement has long been a public domain and a government activity for the common good. We also need to support private breeders who are developing varieties well suited for organic and low input agriculture. Now is the time for us to advocate for investment of public and private dollars in organic seed research.
There are interesting efforts taking place around the globe to strengthen local organic seed systems. In the EU, LIVESEED conducts on-farm training in seed production and processing, and tests different organic seed treatments to improve health and vigour. There are also efforts underway in the EU to create easier registration of organically bred cultivars which might be less uniform as the F1 hybrids from the commercial breeding companies. In the US, RAFI works to promote regionally adapted seeds and breeds. The Open Source Seed Initiative is gaining momentum in the EU, the US, and Argentina. In Canada, Participatory Plant Breeding programs have been very successful, with lines yielding better than the check varieties.