Information on seeds and seedlings

Seed and planting material, which has valuable genetic properties, is considered the foundation of our food production. It must therefore meet strict requirements to prevent any adverse effects on human and animal health or negative impacts on the environment, processing and product quality. Healthy, first-class seed of high-quality approved varieties helps to ensure that our population is supplied with domestic food and feed, and that industry is supplied with raw materials of the highest quality.

Because of its importance, seed and planting material is subject to strict national and international regulations. Seed trade is harmonized throughout the EU and - through the OECD seed schemes - worldwide. Every seed lot on the market is tested for compliance with legal standards and officially certified and approved before being placed on the market. The authority responsible for implementing the legislation is the Federal Office for Food Safety (BAES).

Seed certification

The Federal Office for Food Safety is the competent authority of first instance for the quality assurance of seed placed on the market. Here you will find details about the application procedure for seed certification. The seed certification procedure ensures the quality of the seed and thus its value for cultivation. Traceability across all production steps is a central component of the certification system. In the course of controlling the seed market, the certification system is evaluated on the one hand; on the other hand, it is ensured that no inferior, non-approved or non-certified seed is placed on the market.

Seeds and seedlings of all agricultural crops important for food must be certified.

Seed Health

The state of health of the seed is decisive for yield reliability and crop quality. As a competent service provider for the examination of the health and condition of the seed and planting material, we are at your disposal. Information on our service can be found here.

Appropriate measures, such as chemical dressing, have been used to reduce seed-borne (seed-transmitted) diseases. At present, however, the requirements for the health status of the seed have again become massively important. Seed health assessment is important for the following reasons:

  • Infected seed provides the basis for massive disease development in the stand in the case of seed-borne pathogens. This reduces the value of plant stands and decreases crop quality.
  • Infected seed carries pathogens to regions or field stands where the pathogen has not previously occurred.
  • Seed-borne seedling disease pathogens are the cause of poor germination and therefore threaten complete and rapid field emergence.
  • Whether seed treatments are necessary is determined by testing for seed-borne pathogens.

Organic seed and organic plant propagation material

Organic farms must always use organic seed. If you want to know which is available, visit our organic plant propagation material database, formerly organic seed database.

According to Regulation (EU) 2018/848, the use of plant propagating material and specifically seed produced according to organic farming conditions is mandatory on organic farms. In order to make the availability of seeds or plant propagation material of certain species or varieties transparent, the aforementioned regulation establishes the creation of an organic plant propagation database. In addition, this Ordinance also regulates the procedural rules in case of non-availability of the crop species to be cultivated or of non-corresponding varieties (see General Exemptions).

The inclusion of seed lots of a variety or the totality of plant propagating material in the Organic Plant Propagating Material Database has been free of charge since the regulations under (EU) 2018/848 came into force.  To register in the database, use the form below. Organic seed from the certification procedure with a positive evaluation will be directly included in the database.

The inclusion of seed lots of a variety in the organic seed database has been free of charge since the regulations under (EU) 2018/848 came into force. The organic seed fee tariff 2021 can be found here.

Genetic engineering (GMO) in seeds

Austria has a highly efficient quality system for seed certification that provides safety from the initial seed to the marketing of the ready-to-sow seed. The Seed Genetic Engineering Ordinance stipulates that the initial testing of a seed lot must show a negative result in every case. This means that no traces of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may be detected.

GMO monitoring system

Since 2001, a reliable GMO monitoring system has been applied by the Federal Office for Food Safety (BAES) on the basis of the Seed Genetic Engineering Ordinance for the crops maize, soybean and rapeseed. The monitoring system is used not only in the seed recognition and approval procedure, but also in the course of variety approval. In addition, seed that enters Austria from EU or third countries and is sold here is monitored. We provide these services by further processing the seed or leaf samples and subjecting them to a precise analysis for GMO contamination in the laboratory. More information on the GMO monitoring system and related reports can be found on the website of the Federal Office for Food Safety (BAES).

Further information

The Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Long-Term Care and Consumer Protection (BMSGPK) is responsible for the task area of genetic engineering. Here you will find comprehensive information on the subject of genetic engineering.

Seed export

The issuance of phytosanitary certificates (PGZ) is required for the export and re-export of seeds and seedlings. The phytosanitary requirements of the country of destination and the transit countries must be notified by the exporter.

The Federal Office for Food Safety is responsible for issuing phytosanitary certificates for seeds. Phytosanitary certificates for the export of consumer goods are issued in indirect federal administration by the provincial governor.

Comprehensive information can be found here: Issuance of phytosanitary certificate

Seed statistics

On the website of the Federal Office for Food Safety (BAES) you will find various statistics on the subject of seeds, such as seed quantities, seed quality or areas of seed multiplication recognized.



DI Andreas Ratzenböck

Last updated: 10.10.2023

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