Organic Seed

Organic Seed

About organic seed

USDA NOP Organic Seed Regulatory Citation 205.204 Seeds and Planting Stock Standard encourages farmers to use 100% organic seed for their organic production systems, which Vitalis supports:

  • By breeding and producing seeds in organic production systems, and
  • By ensuring that the resulting varieties have the highest genetic and purity standards in the marketplace.

We believe in building organic production systems with organically produced seed. Conventionally produced seed cannot be used to fully accomplish the goals of organic agriculture, based on subjection of the seeds to chemical-based inputs including synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Vitalis seeds are the product of organic production techniques that work with biological systems such as crop rotation, intercropping, organic fertilization, natural pest control and mechanical cultivation for weed control to manage organic seed production.

Organic production systems

Organic agriculture differentiates itself from conventional production systems through its utilization of natural systems to manage crop production. Organic agriculture is thereby reliant on symbiotic relationships between micro-organisms and organic matter, climate, the presence of beneficial insects and so forth. These differences raise the need for organically bred seeds that can:

  • Resist disease
  • Efficiently mineralize nutrients
  • Perform vigorously in mechanical cultivation

Techniques allowed

While no official guidelines currently define organic plant breeding, certain principles have emerged as foundational:

  1. Transgenic modification is generally held to be inappropriate for organic systems; with all existing "organic" certification regulations explicitly disallowing the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for organic production. View the Vitalis declaration on the non-use of GMOs .
  2. Breeding techniques that violate the integrity of plant cells or limit the capacity for natural perpetuation of crop species, including protoplast fusion and cytoplasmic male sterility, are considered less desirable in organic breeding.
  3. The use of hybrid cultivars is accepted, as this breeding technique does not artificially cross species boundaries (natural crosses between closely related species and even genera used in classical, non-GMO breeding are allowed).
  4. Patenting of genes to protect investments in breeding programs is philosophically antithetical to organic agriculture principles.
  5. Breeder's Rights are respected and accepted.

Market differentiation

With the organic market growing at a rate of 20% annually for the past decade, consumer expectations are on the rise, motivated by factors including:

  • Perceived enhanced nutritional value
  • Flavor
  • Product uniqueness
  • Environmental stewardship

Community development through support of their local food system

Breeding strategies for organic agriculture are informed by these factors. While conventional agriculture may be focused on large, regional production areas for high yielding varieties that perform well in high input conventional agriculture systems, highly valued traits in organic varieties include:

  • Demonstrated efficiency in their use of nutrients
  • Broad resistance to pests and diseases
  • Outstanding flavor, appearance and color
  • Outstanding seed quality and viability

At Vitalis, our breeding programs include our own propriety crops as well as new variety candidates resulting from collaboration with the extensive breeding programs of Enza Zaden. This collaboration allows us to continually offer new and innovative varieties that are ideally suited to organic agricultural methods, and to the needs and expectation of the ever-expanding organic consumer market.  

Gene technology

Organic agriculture rejects the use of plants that have been genetically modified or manipulated using gene technology. This is in agreement with USDA NOP regulation 205.105, which states that on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and derived products, as described in Guidance 205.2, are not allowed in organic growing and/or organic products. 

From breeding to production, no Vitalis seeds are derived from or produced using Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or their derivatives, and all reasonable steps have been taken to avoid any such contamination. View the Vitalis declaration on the non-use of GMOs

The USDA NOP issued a policy document on the use of cell fusion in organic seed production and breeding.