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Organic seeds need more support, industry group finds

Growth in the US organic market needs to be backed by better access to seeds, according to the Organic Seed Alliance.

More seeds designed for organic farming should be made available as demand for organic products grows, a report from industry group the Organic Seed Alliance argues.

Although US organic crop production has increased in volume and value, most producers still rely on seeds bred for conventional farming, the report found.

Producers would benefit from increased availability and diversity of seeds bred specifically to benefit from organic farming practices.

Funding levels that have not kept pace with growth in the market and high costs for companies already testing breeding lines for genetically engineered material are barriers to the availability of these varieties, according to the report. More training for new organic seed producers would also help increase demand.

Organic farming requires a wider variety of seeds, because crops are more sensitive to local soil and climate conditions, the report added. Better seeds would also build genetic diversity in crops and entirely remove herbicide, insecticide and fungicide-derived toxins from the organic production process, it argued.

It said that additional public and private funding sources should be identified to target organic seed development, and that oversight and support mechanisms must be put in place to improve access.

Funding for public organic plant breeding and other organic seed initiatives 1996-2018

Source: The Organic Seed Alliance.