Demeter International LIVESEED project

Demeter International LIVESEED project

(Reprinted from “Biodynamics in the World,” 2/17)

Demeter-International e.V. as a third party linked to IFOAM EU is part of a consortium that applied last year for a project under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The project proposal LIVESEED was successful and the project will start in May 2017 and end in April 2021.The kickoff meeting is now planned for mid-June.
Project Coordinator is IFOAM EU, scientific Coordinator is the FiBL Switzerland with Monika Messmer as responsible scientist.
What the project is about
LIVESEED aims to improve the performance and competitiveness of the organic sector by boosting organic seed and plant breeding efforts. To increase the availability and choice of organic seed, LIVESEED will:
 harmonize the implementation of legislative requirements and develop an EU-wide router database tool for seed suppliers,
 develop improved cultivar testing systems, organic seed health and quality strategies, best practices for organic seed multiplication, and new variety testing protocols for the registration of cultivars for the organic sector,
 develop novel breeding concepts, selection tools, and genetic resources,
 explore plant-microbe interactions,
 initiate new breeding networks to close major gaps for legumes, cereals, vegetables, fruit trees and fodder crops,
 identify bottlenecks in the organic seed market,
 develop business and governance models for breeding and seed production,
 engage stakeholder groups for knowledge exchange, practical training, and capacity building, and
 provide recommendations based on synthesis of LIVESEED outcomes.
The innovative multi-actor and -action research approach (‘learning by doing’) of LIVESEED ensures a broad and fast implementation of the project outputs across Europe. The LIVESEED consortium represents a multidisciplinary European partnership involving 48 organisations (35 partners + 13 third linked parties) and >30 stakeholders from 16 EU countries and Switzerland, including researchers, breeders, seed producers, organic associations and retailers. Combining scientific and practical knowledge will enable the consortium to generate innovative solutions adapted to the needs of endusers for different pedo-climatic and socio-economic contexts. The main outcome will be an improved breeding efficiency and a greater choice and uptake of organic seed derived from resilient cultivars to optimize organic and low-input agriculture and strengthen sustainable food production in Europe.

Other linked parties from the Biodynamic community are Kultursaat e.V., Peter Kunz Getreidezüchtung, PomaCulta, Landbauschule Dottenfelder Hof and Gesellschaft für Goetheanische Forschung.

What role will Demeter-International play?
All tasks involve several partners, therefore networking, coordination and cooperation will be an important issue in the project. Demeter-International will have a role in the following tasks:
 analyzing the status quo and determinants of current use and production of organic seed
 Improving the implementation of regulation on organic seed to stimulate its production and use
 developing novel breeding concepts and modern strategies for organic and low-external input farming systems from trait-based to system based strategies
 Identifying the values associated with organic seed use and breeding in organic supply chains
 analyzing consumer attitudes towards new breeding techniques
 developing a communication strategy and tools for an efficient outreach
Tasks will be carried out for Demeter-International by Antje Kölling and Lina Lasithiotaki.
What chances does the project offer for DI?
For Demeter-International, this is the first participation in an EU Horizon 2020 project – a small step towards greater visibility in the European Organic Research and Innovation community. Biodynamic breeders are the pioneers of organic plant breeding, therefore Demeter-International aims to bring in Biodynamic background, experience and build up larger networks with contacts from the Biodynamic community. The project is a
chance to bring organic plant breeding from a niche to a larger dimension – following organic ideals that were inspired by the Biodynamic movements such as such as respect for the cell and the genome as an impartible entity.
By Antje Kölling