Seed clampdown on organic men?

28 January 2000

Seed clampdown on organic men?

ORGANIC growers face a clamp down on seed regulations following the release of a report which found that only 21% of organic farmers returned derogation forms allowing them to use conventionally produced seed.

The report, which looked at production in 1998, was commissioned by MAFF and carried out by Elm Farm Research Centre. Report project officer Amanda Cook said: "We know that the majority of seed used is conventional. Derogations are not being policed by the sector bodies. It is a big issue that needs addressing."

Roy Ward, chairman of the UK Register of Organic Food Standards, said the organisation would check up on the sector to ensure that growers only receive consent to use conventional seed when organic seed is unavailable.

"We are going to wave a bigger stick slightly more vigorously than in the past."

Roger Wyatt of Wyatt Seeds warned that a lack of commitment to organic principles threatened to undermine public credibility in the sector. He said: "If we lost that, weve lost everything."

Lawrence Woodward, director of the Elm Farm Research Centre, said a levy was being considered on organic growers who buy conventional seed so it was not a cheap alternative to organic supplies.

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