[RÉPONSE]Question écrite à la Commission E-000704-18 de Maria Heubuch (Verts/ALE) , Maria Noichl (S&D) – Aide humanitaire : origine des graines et approvisionnement éthique

Niveau juridique : Union européenne

Texte de la question :

« The distribution of seeds for planting can play an important role in the EU’s humanitarian aid and food assistance. In order for such action to deliver for food insecure communities, it is vital that the seeds be adapted to local conditions. The socioeconomic resilience of communities can be further strengthened through the establishment of community-based seed systems and seed banks where farmers can access saved seeds freely and promptly when they face emergency situations.

Can the Commission elaborate on the types of seeds for planting that are distributed through European humanitarian aid and food assistance and, more specifically, whether those seeds are of improved plant varieties that require the use of expensive inputs and are potentially protected under intellectual property rights, or are of locally adapted open-pollinated varieties that farmers can use continuously and save for future planting?

If the Commission uses the seeds of improved plant varieties, how does this practice respect the principle of ethical procurement, especially the ‘concern for social rights and environmental aspects’ enshrined in the 2011 Humanitarian Aid Guidelines for Procurement, and the concept of resilience, the importance of which has been recognised in the 2017 evaluation of the EU approach to resilience to withstand food crises. »

Réponse donnée par Mr Stylianides on behalf of the Commission

« In full respect of the ‘do no harm’ principle, the EU’s humanitarian food assistance safeguards the interests of beneficiaries in the selection of agricultural inputs to improve farmers’ access to good quality seeds and protect their livelihoods through distribution, seed vouchers and/or seed fairs as may be necessary. This allows farmers to resume agricultural production after emergencies, thereby strengthening their resilience and minimising their dependence on aid.

The selection of the most appropriate seed varieties is done in line with the Humanitarian Aid Guidelines for Procurement (1), as well as in conformity to international and national seed policies, guidelines, and standards (2).

Where possible, the EU strongly encourages the use of locally available seeds to maximise exchanges between farmers from the same agro-ecological zones to protect the local economy and biodiversity taking also into account beneficiaries’ preferences. In specific cases, locally adapted, improved, selected high quality seed varieties can also be considered, for example drought resistant seeds in drought prone areas, based on careful technical assessment of the response options and their agro-ecological impacts, and in all cases in line with applicable rules and regulations. »

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