The profitability of the French agricultural sector has fallen over the last two decades, leading to the suggestion of a “rupture in technical progress”. Additionally, the intellectual property regime in force has contributed to the erosion of the cultivated biodiversity, limiting plant resiliency to climate change and other hazards. In the face of these challenges, agroecological farming practices are a viable alternative. This paper investigates the positive and negative aspects associated with the development of alternative seed procurement networks in France. The findings indicate that peasant seed networks can effectively contribute to overcoming many of the structural blockages with which French agriculture is confronted, but that yield concerns; higher information and supervisory costs, as well as the unfavourable legislative context, constitute key challenges to their development. However, these could be partially or totally eliminated if adequate policies are implemented. In this regard, the recommendations are to: (i) strengthen the dialogue with farmers in the shaping of policies related to the use of plant genetic resources; (ii) abrogate the “obligatory voluntary contribution” on farm-saved seeds; (iii) diversify the collection of Centres for Biological Resources, increase their number, and democratize their access; (iv) harmonize the French and European regime on intellectual property; and (v) encourage participatory research.
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