French Interprofessional Organisation|for Seeds and Plants

Our history: growing the French seed and plant sector

The current structure of the seed sector was determined by actions taken in the early 20th century. Because the sector’s foundations were in place early on, seed production easily transitioned from being a personal to a professional affair. This transition ultimately allowed France to take on a leading role in global seed production.

The seed industry: a history that dates back to the 20th century


1905: French legislation is passed that protects the public against fraud and falsification, in part because of issues related to the seed trade. The goal—to only allow the sale of healthy, unadulterated products of marketable quality.

1908: The first French seed federation, focused on forage plants, is created in Poitiers. Little by little, other organisations emerge in France and abroad. For example, in 1924, the International Seed Federation is founded.


To deal with food shortages, the industry adopts a more interprofessional model. The goal is to better manage the country’s seed production and food supply.


The French Interprofessional Organisation for Seeds and Plants, GNIS, is created. Following the blueprint laid down in the 1940s, GNIS works to bring together seed industry professionals and consumers (farmers, gardeners).


GNIS’s bylaws are revised to reflect changes in French and European legislation and to clarify the organisation’s tasks and objectives.


GNIS becomes SEMAE.

SEMAE in the 21st century

In 2020, the French interprofessional organisation for seeds and plants represents:

  • 74 breeding companies, including co-ops, family-run businesses, SMEs, and multinational corporations
  • 17,838 seed growers
  • 244 seed production companies
  • 6,011 distributors
  • Millions of consumers, including farmers and home gardeners

Header photo : © SEMAE / Paul Dutronc