Blog posts by seeds

Written by Guest Blogger on Monday, September 26, 2016 on advocacy, policy, seeds

The seed industry is one of the most consolidated in agriculture, and it's getting worse. Bayer recently announced that it reached a merger agreement with Monsanto, which will create the world's largest supplier in seeds and agricultural chemicals. DuPont and Dow, and ChemChina and Syngenta, have also announced agreements to merge. If the Department of Justice (DOJ) allows these three mega-mergers to move forward, three corporations will sell nearly 60% of the world's seed. This level of concentration will have grave impacts on U.S. agriculture, including organic. We know that consolidation...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, September 19, 2016 on advocacy, policy, seeds

Vague language in last year’s revision of the California Seed Law was clarified by legislation that exempts non-commercial seed trading–such as seed libraries, seed swaps, and other seed exchanges–from state permit and labeling requirements for commercial seed. California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Seed Exchange Democracy Act into law on September 9, 2016. Introduced by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-Marin County), the bill was a response to alarms raised by activists that the imprecise language in California’s seed law could unintentionally impede the free exchange of seed at...
Written by Jane Sooby on Tuesday, July 5, 2016 on seeds

Organic Seed Alliance released its latest report, State of Organic Seed, 2016, in June. Based on farmer surveys, discussions at grower conferences, and a comprehensive analysis of publicly funded research, Organic Seed Alliance found: Organic farmers are using more organic seed and are happier with organic seed quality than in the past. Since 2011, public and private investments in organic plant breeding and organic seed research have increased from $9 million to $31 million. More organic farmers than before believe that organic seed is the foundation of organic food integrity. At the same...
Written by Guest Blogger on Monday, January 11, 2016 on research, seeds


University of California Davis and Organic Seed Alliance are working to develop new varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and dry beans specifically suited to the needs of organic farmers in California. In order to develop these varieties, the Organic Seed Alliance needs your help to understand your specific organic production needs and have developed a survey to gather your suggestions. The results of this survey will help direct this substantial organic breeding effort for the next several years. If tomatoes, peppers, or beans are important to your farm, please consider taking 15 minutes to...
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Monday, December 7, 2015 on advocacy, policy, research, seeds

It is a challenge for organic growers in California to find seed varieties that perform well in organic conditions, due to the fact that most plant breeding has been done for conventional production. This need for organic-specific vegetable varieties is being addressed by a new organic plant breeding project at the University of California, Davis, funded by a federal Organic Research and Extension Initiative grant. The project will focus on developing organic tomato, bean, and pepper varieties. Cultivars will be developed on CCOF-certified organic land at UC Davis’s student farm. The plan is...
Written by Guest Blogger on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 on grower, seeds

For growers producing organic baby leaf crops, the spread of bacterial diseases can be rapid with devastating results. Additionally, harvesting clean, organic, pathogen-free seed is another challenge for both seed producers and growers. Short of discarding the seed or accepting a decline in harvest quality, organic growers have few viable options to recover their crop once it is infected with bacterial diseases. One bacterial disease that has a significant impact on the production of baby leaf vegetable crops is Pseudomonas syringae pv. aptata. This bacterium is commonly called bacterial leaf...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, December 1, 2014 on policy, seeds


We need your help gathering data on organic seed use! The Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) is a non-profit organization focused on furthering on-farm breeding through education and advocacy. Their work is informed by organic farmer experience with seeds, which they collect through a survey. OSA is now gathering data from organic farmers in California. Please take the survey. For organic farmers, something as basic as buying seed can be an annual challenge. Organic farmers must use organic seed, and seed industry consolidation has resulted in a drastic reduction of seed varieties available in the...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, November 17, 2014 on policy, seeds

Public breeding programs are needed now more than ever before, according to a recently released report titled Proceedings of Summit on Seeds and Breeds for the 21st Century Agriculture, published by the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI). The publication is a collection of essays and information gathered from RAFI’s two-day summit on seed varieties and public breeding. Held earlier this year, the summit brought together over 35 researchers, plant and animal breeders, farmers, academics, and other stakeholders to discuss our nation’s seed supply and develop recommendations for...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, July 21, 2014 on seeds

Adapted from Press Release by the Organic Seed Alliance CCOF invites you to participate in the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) national seed survey. The survey is designed to assess certified organic crop producers’ perceptions regarding organic seed and to better understand current organic seed usage. This national survey is conducted every five years and is used as the basis of the State of Organic Seed Report, which monitors organic seed availability and use, challenges in sourcing organic seed, and organic plant breeding needs. The survey data may also help shape organic seed and breeding...
Written by Jon Knapp on Monday, July 14, 2014 on grower, research, seeds


The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is currently working on a project that could assist organic farmers in seed treatment. Conventional farming practices that focus on chemical treatment and fumigation can be harmful to both the environment and humans alike, and many of these methods are prohibited in organic production. OFRF is expanding on the work of prior studies that found suppression of soil-borne plant pathogens from microbes present in solid and liquid organic soil amendments. OFRF seeks to identify which specific subset of microbes is responsible for this pathogen...
Written by Guest Blogger on Monday, April 21, 2014 on grower, help and tips, seeds


In the past, it was a challenge for many organic farmers to source organic seed. Fortunately, there are now a number of resources available to make it easier for farmers to find organic seed or to produce it themselves. These resources include the new Organic Seed Finder website, Organic Seed Alliance’s seed production publications, and the eOrganic Seed Resource Guide. Organic Seed Finder, hosted and managed by the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA), was launched in October 2012 and serves as a free resource for farmers, certifiers, and other stakeholders looking to...
Written by Guest Blogger on Thursday, October 24, 2013 on advocacy, seeds, standards

This post was written by Kristina Hubbard, director of advocacy and communications for Organic Seed Alliance. She recently published an article in Agriculture and Human Values entitled, "Confronting coexistence in the United States: organic agriculture, genetic engineering, and the case of Roundup Read alfalfa." For another opinion on organic seed issues, visit UNFI VP of Policy and Industry Relations Melody Meyer's blog, Organic Matters. Seed has been in the national headlines a lot these days. We’ve read about chefs teaming up with plant breeders to explore seed as a new frontier, and been...