The practice of growing, reproducing and handling seed products with different characteristics or intended markets with the goal of successfully achieving intended product integrity and maintaining the economic value of such products.
Organic Seed Availability and Compliance
Compared to the growth of the overall organic sector, organic seed is still an underdeveloped area. Organic growers largely depend on conventionally produced seed because the organic seed sector is still in development. In 2002, the USDA developed the NOP, a domestic organic regulatory standard, to govern the U.S. organic sector. The regulation includes a clause governing organic seed usage in certified organic farming systems (Section 205.204(a)) – prescribes the use of organic seed in an organic production system whenever such seed is commercially available (USDA-AMS, 2002). Interpretations of the organic seed clause and the development of monitoring tools for compliance have evolved since 2002, and the NOP recently publicized a final Guidance (NOP 5029) on Seeds, Annual Seedlings, and Planting Stock in Organic Crop Production.
As the organic sector grows globally, trade of organic seeds has been on the increase. The NOP has trade agreements with multiple countries that include both equivalency agreements and recognition agreements. For example the NOP has equivalency agreements with both the Canada Organic Regime and most recently the European Union (EU) organic system. An equivalency agreement allows for products that are produced and certified according to one country’s organic standards to be sold and represented as organic in the other country.