February 23, 2011
On February 16, 2011, the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) released a survey-based report entitled State of Organic Seed: Advancing the Viability and Integrity of Organic Seed Systems. The report serves as the first comprehensive analysis of the organic seed sector.
Although the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) requires the use of organic seed when commercially available, the organic seed industry has not caught up to meet the increased demand for organic seed. According to Matt Dillon, one of the study’s lead authors, “The lack of organically bred and produced seed is a barrier to the growth and ongoing success of organic farming.” Many farmers report difficulties in finding specific varieties, or finding varieties with desirable genetic traits. At the same time, a majority of the farmers surveyed reported increased pressure by certification agents to source organic seed.
Based on these findings, the authors of the report argue that organic seed needs to meet regional challenges in terms of climate and soil, but also conform to local market demand. Furthermore, additional investment in organic plant breeding is needed to promote seed with genetics that are better adapted to pest and disease pressures, growing seasons, and flavor and nutrition.
The report makes the following recommendations:
To download the full report, click here.