Strict property and marketing laws imposed on seeds in France

French farmers stop seed law that would brand farm-saved seed as ‘counterfeit’.


As in most European countries, seed laws in France are very prohibitive and are enforced strongly through seed industry lobbyists and their organisations. On the one hand, there are property laws that prohibit farmers from saving seeds of protected varieties. Farmers are allowed to re-use protected seeds for 30 species only and they have to pay for this. In the case of bread wheat, a fee is levied when farmers deliver their harvests and then only those who present a receipt for having purchased the seeds are reimbursed. In 2013, the industry proposed a new law that would brand farm-saved seed as ‘counterfeit’. Under this proposal, seed companies would be able to demand farmers’ harvest be destroyed without needing to present evidence that the farmers were re-using the company’s seeds. The French farmers were ready to go on a hunger strike to oppose this proposal, which was finally withdrawn because of their mobilisation.

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Basic Data
NameStrict property and marketing laws imposed on seeds in France
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Biopiracy and bio-prospection
Specific CommoditiesFruits and Vegetables
Project Details and Actors
Relevant government actorsComité Technique Permanent des Semences

Environmental justice organisations and other supportersReseau Semences Paysannes

Confédération Paysanne/Peasant Confederation


Nature et Progrès
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationPublic campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage)
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The proposed law was withdrawn.
Sources and Materials

Law of November 28, 2011 on Certificates of New Plant Variety, published in the Official Gazette on December 8, 2011 amending the Code of Intellectual Property
[click to view]

European Directive on patenting plants and animals 98/44/EC - the legal protection of biotechnological inventions


GRAIN article (2005) and summary of seed laws in France
[click to view]

Guardian article (03/01/2012) "French farmers will have to pay to use their own seeds" (accessed 02/03/2015)
[click to view]

Other Documents

Semences Paysanne
[click to view]

Semences Paysanne
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJOLT Team
Last update09/03/2015