Welcome to the European Seed Association!
ESA is the voice of the European seed industry, representing the interests of those active in research, breeding, production and marketing of seeds of agricultural, horticultural and ornamental plant species.
Plants from seed are the origin of all food, provide innovative and environmentally friendly industrial products and beautify our landscape.
ESA's mission is to work for:
•effective protection of intellectual property rights relating to plants and seeds; •fair and proportionate regulation of the European seed industry; •freedom of choice for customers (farmers, growers, industry, consumers) in supplying seeds as a result of innovative, diverse technologies and production methods
What is the value of seeds?
The seed is the single most important factor in maintaining and enhancing sustainable agricultural production.
High quality seeds and propagating material of improved plant varieties for food and feed production and non-food uses deliver the genetic progress that is the base of creating value throughout the subsequent agri-food chain.
By continuous development and creation of improved plant varieties the seed industry has always responded to the ever increasing needs of mankind.
Seeds and plant breeding constitute the basis of agriculture. By developing new varieties, modern plant breeding has created more variation in food crops than has ever been available to farmers and consumers. This diversity is not only a basis for adapting varieties and agriculture to different environmental conditions and constraints such as drought, outbreaks of pests, diseases or climate change but it is also a major contributor to food production and nutrition. Breeding is important for ensuring food security by developing new varieties that are higher-yielding, better resistant and better adapted. With more and more people to feed, shrinking and less fertile farm lands and other potential future demands and challenges agriculture may face the world increasingly depends on efforts of plant breeding to meet the growing expectations of society.
What is plant breeding?
Plant breeding is the science of adapting the genetics of plants for the benefit of humankind. The overall aim of plant breeding is to improve the quality, performance diversity of crops with the objective of developing plants better adapted to human needs.
Already near at the beginning of human civilization early farmers started to select plants for specific features such as faster growth, larger seeds or sweeter fruits. However, modern plant breeding only dates from the scientific discoveries on genetics of Gregor Mendel published in 1865. Although Mendel’s findings were ignored for a long time, they were rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century which also constitutes the starting point of the development of a dedicated plant breeding sector and specialized companies.
As the understanding of nature and its processes developed plant breeding activities suddenly could become much more advanced. Modern chemistry, biology, genetics and also information technology have enhanced the possibilities of plant breeders who brought their new understanding of genetics to the traditional techniques of self-pollinating and cross-pollinating plants. Nowadays many different breeding techniques ranging from simple selection to complex molecular technologies are used to develop plants exhibiting desired characteristics.