Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) is a national non-profit organization committed to protecting, promoting, and developing the organic seed trade and it’s growers, thereby assuring that the organic community has access to excellent quality organic seed, free of contaminants and adapted to the diverse needs of organic agriculture. As a diverse membership organization, OSGATA is uniquely positioned to address serious threats facing organic seed.
The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) develops, protects and promotes the organic seed trade and its growers, and assures that the organic community has access to excellent quality organic seed, free of contaminants and adapted to the diverse needs of local organic agriculture.
OSGATA is farmer-run with a membership comprised of organic farmers who produce seed crops, organic seed breeders, organic seed companies, as well as affiliate organizations and non-voting associate members composed of colleagues that support organic farmers and organic seed systems.
- Defending farmers’ rights to save and trade seed.
- Promoting the right to farm, protected from GE contamination.
- Ensuring the right to true choice in the marketplace for farmers and consumers.
- Enabling the viability of responsive, regional, organic seed companies.
- Creating protocols for testing seed quality and maintaining seed integrity.
- Protect farmer-developed varieties.
- Developing and supporting organic seed standards.
- Providing organic farmers with 100% of their organic seed needs.
- Educating farmers and consumers alike about the importance of organic seed.
- Supporting genetic diversity of agricultural crops.
Organic Begins with Seed…
Certified organic farmers require quality organic seed in order to meet NOP certified organic guidelines, but more importantly they need organic seed to maximize the overall integrity and success of their organic system. At the onset of the organic rule (October, 2002), a definitive lack of certified organic seed quantity and quality on the market required the NOP to develop an exemption for the use of organic seed. While the exemption is necessary at present, no farmer should be without the seed best suited for their microclimates, production systems and markets.
Organic seed systems face the very real threat of contamination from transgenic seed. This raises pressing questions concerning liability: Who should be responsible for testing organic seed for the presence of contamination? If organic seed is found to be contaminated, who bears the financial burden?
Our seed systems are further threatened by corporate consolidation. Monopolization of seed companies and agricultural lands on an international scale gives rise to monocultures and facilitates a staggering loss of biodiversity: over the past 100 years, based on UN estimates, 75% of seed genetics have been lost forever. This is complicated by the granting of patents on seeds, which removes this once universal genetic resource from the commons and consolidates it into the hands of the few.
The development of a vibrant organic seed trade will result in the manifestation of seed systems suited to the ecological, economic, and localized challenges and needs of organic farming.
1. Promote Biodiversity.
Over the last century thousands of local varieties of seed have disappeared− with estimated losses of nearly 75% of agricultural genetic diversity.
2. Keep Collective Resources in the Commons.
Seed sovereignty equals food freedom. Rampant consolidation has swept through the seed industry in recent history, resulting in much of the world’s seed resources being controlled by just 6 corporations.
3. Avoid Genetic Engineering.
By definition, certified organic seed is free of content from genetic engineering.
4. Reduce Use of Toxic Chemicals.
Seed crops are often in the ground longer than food crops. In conventional seed production, this results in more applications of chemical herbicides and pesticides. The allowance for chemical pesticides and herbicides applied to seed is also much higher because seed is considered a non-food crop.
5. Protect Pollinator Health.
Organic seed is not pre-coated with dangerous neonicotinoid (“neonic”) pesticides. Neonics are also systemic: the pesticide is drawn into a plant’s vascular system from its roots and is expressed throughout the whole plant, including the pollen and nectar which pollinators forage for and drink. The resulting chronic exposure is devastating to all pollinators.
6. Encourage Continued Organic Research.
Organic seed is better suited for low-input organic systems. And regionalized research leads to adaptation of varieties, making them even more robust. Seed farmers can select varieties of plants that perform well under local ecological conditions and pressures such as pests and disease, and changing climate.
7. Celebrate Varieties Selected for Quality (Instead of Just Quantity).
Organic researchers and farmer-breeders consider flavor and nutrition in their breeding selections, instead of focusing on traits like high yield and extended shelf life.
8. Preserve Agrarian Tradition.
The future of organic farming depends on sharing the skills and knowledge of our agri-culture, including seed stewardship and the stories of our seeds.
9. Support Family Farmers.
Organic seed farming is intensive, and often family-scale. It substitutes management skill for toxic chemicals, and leads to rural economic development in hiring local labor.
10. Contribute to a Thriving Organic Industry.
The development of a vibrant organic seed trade will result in seed systems suited to ecological, economic, and localized challenges and needs of organic farming at every scale. In opting for organic seed, you support the growth of the organic industry.
Stronger Seed, Stronger Crops. Varieties suited to local conditions are more biologically diverse. Their regional adaptation makes them robust− seed farmers can select varieties of plants that perform well under local ecological conditions and pressures from disease, pests and climate. Such selection and breeding will strengthen the organic community by building a sound foundation for organic agriculture with independent seed resources adapted to the unique requirements of organic productions such as low inputs. Varieties suited to organic conditions are carefully bred and identified by skilled organic seed growers for unparalleled performance in the field, and also for other desired traits like increased nutritional value and taste.
Conventional Seed Farming Uses More Chemicals. Seed crops are often in the ground longer than food crops requiring more applications of chemical pesticides and herbicides. Also the allowance for chemicals used on conventional seed is much higher because seed is considered a non-food crop. This means more chemicals are applied over a longer period of time than anything else we grow−contributing to the degradation of biological diversity and human health. Organic seed matters to everyone who produces and eats organic food.