This paper analyses the EU’s Plant Reproductive Material Regulation. This may seem to be a topic that does not concern regular EU citizens. On the contrary, it is highly significant for every one of us. This regulation massively influences which plant reproductive materials, either at supermarkets and markets or at other seed suppliers of your choice, can be bought. In order to understand what this regulation is about, we need to define what plant reproductive material even is. Plant reproductive material, short PRM, “is material of any kind of plants (from seeds up to fully grown trees) used for the production of other plants” (European Commission :1). With the overhaul of the current legislation, the European Union aims to facilitate an easier access for companies to the seed and PRM market of other EU countries and a regulation process that secures the seeds’ and plants’ health. This aim might seem noble, but would this overhaul support all kinds of enterprises or just pave the way for big companies like Monsanto to rule the market? This question is not easy to answer. As can be seen, there are many angles from which this regulation can be looked at. Therefore different perspectives on this topic will be analysed and the positive and negative outcomes of this regulation will be extracted. On this account, the focus will be on the work of the Austrian heirloom association ARCHE NOAH (Noah’s Ark) and the international agricultural company Monsanto.
1 History and Overhaul – Plant Reproductive Material Law
The cooperation of countries within the European Union regarding plant reproductive material has been an important issue ever since the founding days of the Union. The first legal foundation was set in the late 1960s; currently, PRM is regulated by twelve Directives which partly have not changed in any way since their passage in the 60s. The aim of these Directives is to safeguard the most significant plant species EU-wide. Unfortunately, the segmentation of this common sector into twelve Directives is not only hindering in terms of administration but also complicating the cooperation between EU countries. Therefore, the European Union aims to renew the current legislation with a new plant reproductive material law. The European Commission’s aim is to pass a legislation which should cause various improvements. First of all, all twelve Directives will be united in one and administrative procedures should be optimised to guarantee a prosperous future for the agricultural sector in the European Union (cf. European Commission :1f). Moreover, it will “protect the identity, quality and health of plant reproductive material” (ibid. :2). Last but not least, an overhaul of the current legislation will provide a buttress for today’s needs of sustainability and biodiversity. In conclusion, the European Union tries to create a fertile soil for cooperation within the Union and protection of our environment for the future...