Fraudulent Polish Grass Seed placed on EU market

Brussels, December 6th 2022: 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 came to the conclusion that certified seed of one of the biggest selling perennial ryegrass varieties, namely Bokser, in many cases is not true to type.  Bokser is marketed by Polish trading companies which have a partnership. These Polish counterfeiters certify grass seeds which 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 3 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 for Breeders Trust to start its own investigation to clarify whether this is an isolated incident or that there is a structural problem with the variety Bokser. Various seed lots of the variety Bokser 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% of the purchased Bokser seed lots turned out to be forged.

European market
In a reaction, Geert Staring, director of Breeders Trust, indicated that this is a very bad development. ‘These seed lots are processed into mixtures which are sold in many European countries. 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 market disruption, it also leads to unfair competition and disappointments after sowing.’

On the left one of the tested lots, on the right the reference lot.

On the left one of the tested lots, on the right the reference lot.

Project manager Corné van Beers: ‘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.  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.’