Organic breeding needs your support

Organic breeders do a lot of development work

Varieties do not fall from the sky, but do grow from the earth: It can take more than 15 years for a new variety to come on to the fields from organic breeding. This development work costs up to 800’000 Euros.

Organic farmers are funding the seed conglomerates

In conventional agriculture, breeding is financed almost exclusively with licensing income from seed sales. Organic farmers also pay several million Euros each year to conventional seedcompanies when they buy and grow varieties from their range.

Conventional breeding is subsidized by the state

In addition, the EU and the individual states support conventional breeding with public subsidies, sometimes on a massive scale. Organic breeding often goes without.

Who pays for organic breeding?

The organic acreage is too small

Because the cultivated acreage in organic farming is still too small and the seed quantities sold are far too tiny, organic breeders can only finance part of their costs with seed sales.

Generally organic breeders need to tap alternative sources of funding.

For example:

  • Foundations (e.g. seed fund of Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft)
  • Contributions from companies and donations from private individuals
  • Partly publicfunding, e.g. from the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) forcertain projects

In order to ensure sustainable organic breeding in the longterm, however, much more financial resource is needed.

Two successful alternative financing models

Initiative Bio-Saatgut Sonnenblumen (IBS) – breeders, processors, marketers share financing

Reproducible sunflowers with high oleic acid content from organic breeding: previously these were not available. Therefore, the grain breeder Peter Kunz (GZPK) began work on the new breed.

In 2012, GZPK teamed up with processors and marketers. Thirteen partners have committed to provide funding annually for at least five years. Every year this adds up to around 40’000 Euros.

Seed Fund by Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft

In order to provide real alternatives to genetic engineering and to get organic breeding out of its niche, the Seed Fund was founded in 1996. Since 2000, this commitment has been collected under the umbrella of the Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft. More than one million Euros a year in donations go into the seed fund through this foundation. These funds are then made available to the various breeding in initiatives for their work.

On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, we reported here on the Seed Fund.