Seeds under European law, Austria

The grey areas of agriculture and farmers resistance


The current Austrian seed marketing legislation is not very favourable, but leaves some grey areas that make it possible for farmers and gardeners’ associations to sell small amounts of seed. This is a result of the fact that the EU law left member states some margin for their own implementation and Austrian seed savers’ and farmers’ organisations had successfully fought for a non-exclusive way of registering traditional seeds at the national level. Although selling these so-called ‘conservation varieties’ is restricted to a particular geographic area, the result is that many different seed-producing farmers, rather than only one, can register the same traditional variety and sell it legally.

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Basic Data
NameSeeds under European law, Austria
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 CommoditiesSeeds
Fruits and Vegetables
Project Details and Actors
Start Date01/09/2001
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Union (EU)
Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV) from Switzerland
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersGlobal 2000

Arche Noah
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
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseProject cancelled
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The European Parliament and the European Council finally rejected the seed marketing law revisions with a large majority. Austrian farmers see this rejection as an important victory that will allow them to advance in promoting farmers’ rights to save, use and sell their seeds.
Sources and Materials

Federal Law on the Protection of Plant Varieties (Plant Variety Protection Act 2001) (as last amended by Federal Law Gazette (BGBl) I No. 42/2005)
[click to view]


Campaign webpage
[click to view]

Media Links

Campaign video preprared by Arche Noah and Global 2000
[click to view]

Other Documents

Petitions agains the Seed Law revisions Source:
[click to view]

Protests related to the campaigns Source:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJOLT Team
Last update19/02/2015