Commercial interests should not prevail over food security

An open letter to the European Parliament

This week, the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee will once more discuss a controversial regulation proposal on the marketing of seeds. As Corporate Europe Observatory reported last week1, a dinner debate on the matter is organised tonight by the European Seed Association (ESA), the seeds industry's lobby group in Brussels. Initially, the event was announced as hosted by the Parliament's rapporteur on the legislative text, Italian MEP Sergio Silvestris (EPP). Upon request, Mr Silvestris' office declared that “these kind of events are normal”. After questions were asked, though, the invitation was resent with the name of Mr Silvestris as a host withdrawn. Apparently, it was not considered so ‘normal’ after all.

To us, European organisations observing EU lobbying, defending farmers interests, organic agriculture, good food or the conservation of seed diversity, such a behaviour where a rapporteur hosts a lobbying event is unacceptable and throws into question the independence of Mr Silvestris on such a fundamental text: seeds are the basis of agriculture and control of the sector cannot be let to commercial interests only. We are concerned that once more industry's privileged access to decision-makers in the EU will lead to a legislation detrimental to everybody else.

Mr Silvestris’ decision to support the ESA's event largely reflects the content of his first draft report: the rapporteur's text as it stands consolidates the dominance over the seed market of multinational seed corporations whose products are designed for monoculture farming. On top of increasing the sector's concentration, the draft report threatens to close off the possibility for more innovative, diverse and sustainable breeding practices in the future2.

With this open letter, we wish to inform the European Parliament's members about the stakes of the reform as well as what we consider a potentially very dangerous case of regulatory capture with long-term consequences for food security. We exhort the Members of the European Parliament not to let short-term commercial interests prevail in such a fundamental reform and save our future: keeping the seed sector diverse is a condition to our future food supply!

Signatories:

Corporate Europe Observatory

European Coordination Via Campesina

Arche Noah

Institut za trajnostni razvoj - Institute for sustainable development, Slovenia

AGROLINK Association – Bulgaria

Réseau Semences Paysannes

SEEDS ACTION NETWORK - SAN Germany