Seed World

Fraudulent Polish Grass Seed Placed on EU Market

The Brussels-based Breeders Trust represents the interests of plant breeders rights of the most prominent Western European grass seeds breeding and trading companies. Breeders Trust states that in recent years, they repeatedly found that certified seed of one of the biggest selling perennial ryegrass varieties — Bokser — is not true to type in many cases.

Bokser is marketed by Polish trading companies through a partnership. These Polish counterfeiters certified grass seeds that were not true to type under the name of the internationally popular variety Bokser. The reported production area of Bokser in 2022 was over 5,700 hectares, making it the largest perennial ryegrass variety in Poland and one of the top three largest varieties of its kind within the EU. This variety is processed in grass seed mixtures all over Europe, including mixtures for sports fields and lawns which are marketed in Europe.

At the end of 2015, the first signal reached Breeders Trust that a Bokser seed lot was not true to type. This signal was the reason that Breeders Trust began its own investigation to clarify whether it was an isolated incident or a structural problem. Various seed lots of the variety were purchased and included in the Breeders Trust mystery shopping post control program. From the 16 randomly sampled seed lots officially certified as Bokser by the Polish authorities, 11 were not Bokser. At least 69 per cent of the purchased Bokser seed lots turned out to be forged.

“These seed lots are processed into mixtures which are sold in many European countries,” said Geert Staring, director of Breeders Trust. “Counterfeiters enrich themselves at the expense of legitimate propagators and grass seed companies by selling inferior grass seed of unknown origin for a sharp price with something different in the bag than is claimed on the official Polish label. This is not only a market disruption — it also leads to unfair competition and disappointments after sowing.”

“Our post control results have shown that there is a major problem with the Polish propagation of Bokser, within the EU one of the biggest Perennial Ryegrass varieties for the sports fields / lawn market,” added Corné van Beers, project manager of Breeders Trust. “Unfortunately, we have to conclude that the official Polish label doesn’t guarantee the varietal authenticity of the seeds. For that reason, we are currently in contact with the Polish Seed Trade Association to raise awareness concerning this issue, finding together a solution how this problem can be tackled structurally. We are also trying to convince the Polish inspection service to tighten up the execution of the inspections in the interest of a healthy EU market.”

Source: Breeders Trust