Adventitious presence - Bringing clarity to confusion

26.03.2007

 Adventitious presence - Bringing clarity to confusion

Seed producers, plant breeders and farmers want the European Union to bring in new rules to respond to the still-unresolved challenge of low level presence of GMOs in seed which threatens these industries’ ability to compete successfully on world markets.

These new rules would eliminate the diverging national approaches to labelling of seeds, and, by replacing uncertainty with consistency, would provide clarity and confidence to industry, farmers and consumers. 

What is needed are clear and practicable thresholds for labelling of seeds, in situations where there is an accidental presence in conventional seed of small traces of genetically-modified seed – known as “adventitious presence.”

EU agreement on such rules would mean that plant breeders and seed producers would know precisely when they have to label conventional seed for adventitious presence – and when they do not.

Any discussion of adventitious presence inevitably turns upon some basic facts of plant breeding and seed production. This paper offers an overview of the relevant background, and an outline of what is at stake.