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LIVESEED - Improve performance of organic agriculture by boosting organic seed and plant breeding efforts across Europe

Title OriginalLIVESEED - Improve performance of organic agriculture by boosting organic seed and plant breeding efforts across Europe

LIVESEED aims to improve the performance and competitiveness of the organic sector by boosting organic seed and plant breeding efforts. To increase the availability and choice of organic seed, LIVESEED will, among others, harmonize the implementation of legislative requirements and develop an EU-wide router database tool for seed suppliers, develop improved cultivar testing systems, novel breeding concepts, selection tools, genetic resources as well as business and governance models for the whole seed supply chain.  The innovative multi-actor and -action research approach of LIVESEED ensures a broad and fast implementation of the project outputs across Europe. The LIVESEED consortium consists of 49 organisations (35 partners + 14 third linked parties) and >30 stakeholders from 18 European countries, including researchers, breeders, seed producers, organic associations and retailers. Combining scientific and practical knowledge will enable the consortium to generate innovative solutions for a greater choice and uptake of organic seed derived from resilient cultivars to  strengthen sustainable food production in Europe.

Detailed Description

LIVESEED aims to improve the sustainability, performance, and competitiveness of the organic sector by (i) boosting organic seed production, (ii) developing novel breeding approaches to increase the choice of cultivars of various crop species adapted to organic and low-input agriculture for different pedo-climatic conditions in Europe and by harmonizing the implementation of the European regulations in relation to organic seed.

LIVESEED will target all dimensions that impact the use of organic seed from breeding to seed availability. It will improve breeding approaches, cultivar testing, seed multiplication and the use of organic seed databases and address institutional, legal, technical, scientific, and socio-economic barriers of organic seed availability. LIVESEED will cover the five main crop categories: legumes, vegetables, fruit trees, cereals and fodder crops, considering diverse cropping systems across Europe (including mixed cropping and agroforestry). LIVESEED will generate locally adapted innovative solutions that are immediately applicable and adjusted to the needs of the project end-users (breeders, farmers, seed producers, retailers, traders, certifiers and regulators) in the different EU countries. The main outcome will be an improved breeding efficiency and a greater choice and uptake of organic seed derived from resilient cultivars to optimize organic and low-input agriculture and strengthen sustainable food production in Europe.

Specific objectives

Provide a level playing field regarding the use of organic seed across Europe (WP1) by (i) analysing the determinants of the current production and use of organic seed (scientific objective, SO), (ii) identifying breeding gaps of crops and subcrops where suited cultivars are missing (applied objective, AO), (iii) increasing transparency of the EU organic seed market (AO), (iv) improving the implementation of legislative requirements in close collaboration with national authorities in EU Member States (AO), and (v) developing missing national databases together with an EU-wide router database tool for seed suppliers (technological objective, TO).

Increase volume and quality of organic seeds derived from cultivars suited for organic farming (WP2) by (i) developing and improving efficiency of cultivar testing models under organic farming for the identification of suited cultivars  (SO, AO), (ii) developing adjusted protocols for ‘Distinctiveness, Uniformity, Stability’ (DUS) and ‘Value for Cultivation and Use’ (VCU) examination suited for the official registration of open pollinated varieties and new descriptors for marketing of heterogeneous population (SO, TO), (iii) sharing of knowledge and training on smart practices for organic seed multiplication across countries (AO), and (iv) investigating novel seed health strategies and technologies focusing on the vitality of organic seed (SO, TO, AO).  

Accelerate the breeding process and adoption of new cultivars (WP3) by (i) developing novel and holistic breeding concepts and approaches, from trait based to system based breeding (SO), (ii) delivering new breeding tools based on better scientific understanding of the biological basis of crop resilience and product quality, plant-plant, and plant-microbe interactions (SO, TO), (iii) strengthening small breeding initiatives and stimulating collaboration among actors to close breeding gaps for the five main crop categories: legumes, cereals, vegetables, fruit trees and fodder crops (AO), and (iv) identifying key factors for successful breeding initiatives (SO).  

Improve the competitiveness of the organic seed sector (WP4) by (i) identifying gaps and bottlenecks in the market development of organic seeds and breeding through stakeholder consultations (AO), (ii) analysing the organic seed market supply chain (SO), (iii) developing business and governance models including all actors of the supply chain (breeders, seed producers, farmers, processors, retailers and consumers (SO), (iv) performing case studies on the socio-economic impact of upscaling organic seed (SO, AO) and (iv) studying consumer attitudes to the use of new breeding techniques (AO).
Enhance greater uptake of organic seed (WP5) by (i) knowledge sharing and disseminating of LIVESEED results (i) building capacity of breeders, seed producers, farmers, retailers, researchers, and other actors of the food value chain through training and networking, and (iii) raising awareness of policy-makers regarding the importance of using organically bred seeds in organic farming (AO).
Foster seed and breeding related innovation in the organic sector (WP6) by (i) coordinating and ensuring scientific exchange between WPs and other related Seed Projects (SO), (ii) fostering strong collaboration between academic and non-academic actors along the food value chain including competent authorities and policy makers (AO) and (iii) synthesising project results and developing joint-up recommendations (AO).

Financing/ Donor
  • European Commission, Horizon 2020 – The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation under the Grant Agreement no 727230
  • The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI under contract number 17.00090
(Research) Program
  • European Commission, Horizon 2020
  • State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI)
Project partners

Project Coordinator

  • IFOAM EU, IFOAM EU Group, Belgium (Sweden)

Scientific Coordinator

  • Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Switzerland

Executive Committee

  • FiBL-DE, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL Germany e.V., Germany
  • BIONEXT, Bionext, Netherlands
  • INRA, National Institute of Agronomic Research, France
  • ITAB, Technical Institute Organic Agriculture, France
  • LBI, Louis Bolk Institute, Netherlands
  • IPC, Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra, Portugal
  • ORC, Organic Research Centre, United Kingdom
  • UNIVPM, Polytechnic University of Marche, Italy
  • RSR, Rete Semi Rurali, Italy
  • ÖMKI, Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Hungary

Participating Partners

  • Aegilops, Aegilops - Network for Biodiversity and Ecology in Agriculture, Greece
  • AGES, Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, Austria
  • Agrologica, Agrologica, Denmark
  • Agroscope, Agroscope, Switzerland
  • AREI, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Economics, Latvia
  • BSG, Bingenheimer Saatgut AG, Germany
  • BIOSE, Foundation for Organic Agriculture Bioselena, Bulgaria
  • BNN, Association of Organic Processors, Wholesalers and Retailers, BNN, Germany
  • CREA, Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economy Analysis, Italy
  • WR, Wageningen Plant Research, Netherlands
  • FSF, Feldsaaten Freudenberger GmbH, Germany
  • IUNG, Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation, Poland
  • LSSV, Living Seeds Sementes Vivas SA, Portugal
  • MTA, Centre for Agricultural Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
  • SATIVA, Sativa Rheinau AG, Switzerland
  • SEAE, Spanish Organization of Organic Farming, Spain
  • L&F SEGES, Landbrug & Fodevarer F.M.B.A., Denmark
  • NARDI, National Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Romania
  • UBIOS, Union BiSeeds, France
  • UEV, University of Evora, Portugal
  • UNI KASSEL, University of Kassel, Germany
  • VITALIS, Vitalis Organic Seeds, Netherlands
  • UPV, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain

Linked third parties LIVESEED

  • Demeter International
  • European Consortium for Organic Plant Breeding (ECO-PB)
  • Poma Culta e.V., Switzerland
  • Getreidezuechtung Peter Kunz e.V., Switzerland
  • Kultursaat e.V., Germany
  • Organic Arable, United Kingdom
  • Arcoiris, Italy
  • Ecovalia, Spain
  • Dottenfelderhof, Germany
  • Getreidezuechungsforschung Darzau, Germany
  • Romainian Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Romania
  • Institute for Sustainable Development, Slovenia
  • Biobourgogne Cocebi, France
  • Societe Cooperative Agricole de Cereales biologiques Normandie Ile de France
FiBL project leader/ contact
FiBL project staff
Role of FiBL

Scientific coordination, work package leader, project partner

Research area
  • Agricultural & Food Policy (Department of Socio-Economic Sciences)
  • Dissemination & Outreach (Department of Extension, Training & Communication)
  • Organic seed (Germany)
  • Plant Breeding (Department of Crop Sciences)
  • Plant Protection - Phytopathology (Training)
  • Sustainability (Department of Socio-Economic Sciences)
FiBL project number 20064
Date modified 26.03.2021