Tag Archives: Seedbanks

SOS…Save our seeds. The fight continues…

7 May

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A lot of people breathed a sigh of relief yesterday at the concessions that were made over the weekend to the Plant Reproductive Material laws proposed by the European Union. These concessions were made because of the huge public outcry of hundreds of thousands of people in the preceding week. The concessions are:

*Home gardeners are now permitted to save and swap unapproved seeds without breaking the law.

*Individuals and small organisations can grow and supply/sell unapproved vegetable seeds – as long as they have less than 10 employees.

*Seed banks can grow unapproved seeds without breaking the law.

*There could be easier rules for large producers of seeds suitable for organic agriculture in future legislation. (Unspecified)

Sounds all tickety boo doesn’t it? However…all is not as it seems.

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There are clauses that mean the above concessions could be removed in the future, WITHOUT coming back to the Parliament for a vote.

Ben Gabel, Director of the Real Seed Catalogue. www.realseeds.co.uk says:

“The draft law was truly awful and it is good to see that the Commission have responded to the hundreds of thousands of citizens who raised their voices against it. They have made important concessions for home growers and small farmers, though it is a shame they did not think of them in the first place.”

These concessions are a smokescreen. They are time limited to old varieties already commonly on sale. Varieties in seed banks would be outlawed overnight as they could not be registered.

Reading the Executive Summary of the legislation one could be lulled into a false sense of security. However, these first 5 pages are not the proposed law. The Articles are what constitutes the law and they say the exact opposite to the Executive Summary.

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There are currently 70 pieces of legislation governing the food chain…this legislation will reduce that to 5. No..I didn’t miss a zero there…five.

Public pressure has forced the EU to make some concessions…we need to keep up the pressure now to achieve more.  Remember this is only proposed legislation.  This is going to govern what we grow and eat for evermore.

Part of an email I received from Marian Harkin MEP this evening: “The European Commission finalised their proposal on Plant Reproductive Material yesterday. (May 6)

You may wish to lobby for changes to aspects of the proposed legislation that are particularly problematic for your sector. As the legislative process is only just beginning there is scope for amendments to be made.”

So keep on signing those petitions…keep up the pressure…lobby the politicians…theres a lot at stake here.

By the way…I wrote to all the Irish MEPs…Marian Harkin was the only one who replied personally. Two others replied via their secretarial staff.

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