(Arjun Walia) The European Commission is changing the European Union’s plant legislation, apparently to enhance food safety across the continent. This move has sparked a heavy opposition from many, saying that the measure will threaten seed diversity and favour large agrochemical businesses. This new law creates new powers to classify and regulate all plant life anywhere in Europe. You can view the entire proposal in the list of sources at the bottom of this article.
The “Plant Reproductive Material Law” regulates all plants. It contains restrictions on vegetables and woodland trees, as well as all other plants of any species. It will be illegal to grow, reproduce, or trade any vegetable seed or tree that has not been been tested and approved by the government, more specifically the “EU Plant Variety Agency.” This agency will be responsible for making a list of approved plants and an annual fee must also be forwarded to the agency if growers would like to keep what they grow on the list. The new law basically puts the government in charge of all plants and seeds in Europe, and prevents home gardeners from growing their own plants from non-regulated seeds. If they did, they would now be considered criminals.
The draft text of the law has already been changed several times due to a large backlash from gardeners.
This law will immediately stop the professional development of vegetable varieties for home gardeners, organic growers and small scale market farmers. Home gardeners have really different needs – for example they grow by hand, not machine, and can’t or don’t want to use such powerful chemical sprays. There’s no way to register the varieties suitable for home use as they don’t meet the strict criteria of the PLant Variety Agency, which is only concerned about approving the sort of seed used by industrial farmers – Ben Gabel, Director of The Real Seed Catalogue
It seems the government is taking over everything, virtually all plants, vegetables seeds and gardeners are to be registered by the government. What’s even more disturbing is that all heirloom seeds will be criminalized. This means that saving seeds from from one generation to the next will become a criminal act!
This law was written for the needs of the globalized farm seed industry, who supply seed by the ton to industrial farmers. It should not apply at all to seed used by home gardeners and small market growers. Freely reproducible seeds should be a human right, they are part of our heritage.
I understand this is to protect the business of big agri-companies, but registration and testing should be voluntary for all non GMO, non-patented and non hybrid seed.