Tuesday, May 7, 2013

All About The New EU Seed Law

Fritz Kreiss
Activist Post

Well, what a hectic week. Everyone we know has been lobbying hard, and thanks to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been emailing and writing about this, there were some important last-minute changes to the proposed law, even as late as Sunday night.

While it is still a bad law, it is much less bad than the first, second, or even third draft. This is only because so much pressure was brought to bear on them! We must remain vigilant to be sure it is not changed for the worse as it goes through the EU, and then is translated into UK laws. For now, here is a summary of the current situation. The law itself is linked at the bottom.

NEW EU PLANT LAW DIMINISHES SEED SUPPLY FOR HOME GARDENERS, RESTRICTS FARMERS’ CROPS

On Monday May 6th a draconian new law was put before the European Commission, which creates new powers to classify and regulate all plant life anywhere in Europe.

The “Plant Reproductive Material Law” regulates all plants. It contains immediate restrictions on vegetables and woodland trees, while creating powers to restrict all other plants of any other species at a later date.

Under the new law, it will immediately be illegal to grow, reproduce or trade any vegetable seed or tree that has not been tested and approved by a new “EU Plant Variety Agency, who will make a list of approved plants. Moreover, an annual fee must also be paid to the Agency to keep them on the list, and if not paid, they cannot be grown.


Following a huge outcry and intense lobbying from consumer groups, small-scale farmers, genebanks, and even some member-state governements, a few last-minute alterations were made, which while not perfect, have reduced the impact quite a lot.

The key last minute concessions that were made – and this really was only due to public pressure, because they were not in the draft just 3 days previously – are as follows:
  • Home gardeners are now permitted to save and swap unapproved seed without breaking the law.
  • Individuals & small organisations can grow and supply/sell unapproved vegetable seed – as long as they have less than 10 employees.
  • Seedbanks can grow unapproved seed without breaking the law.
  • There could be easier (in an unspecified way) rules for large producers of seeds suitable for organic agriculture etc, in some (unspecified) future legislation – maybe.
But the rest of the law is still overly restrictive, and in the long run will make it much harder for people to get hold of good seeds they want to grow at home. There are also clauses that mean the above concessions could be removed in the future without coming back to the Parliament for a vote.

We are checking out what the next step is. It appears that next it must go to Parliament for modification or approval, so there is still the chance of changes for better or worse. We must all campaign to make sure only improvements are made!

Ben Gabel, vegetable breeder and director of The Real Seed Catalogue, 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. 
However, it will still have negative consequences. It will halt the professional development of vegetable varieties for home gardeners, organic growers, and small-scale market farmers. 
This is because the main registration system is no good for home gardeners – varieties suitable for home use 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. 
Because of this, seed companies used to be able to register and sell “Amateur” varieties that didn’t pass the tests, for home growers. Under the new system, they are now called “Niche” varieties and there is no testing or registration at all, but there is a big catch: any company with more than 10 employees is now banned from producing them. 
So new varieties for home growers can only be developed by tiny organisations, and they may not have the resources to do it well. There will be very little professional development of varieties for home gardeners or small-scale sustainable agriculture. 
The law will reduce the choice available to large farmers too. In some cases it will only allow new varieties of vegetable if they are tested and proven to be better than ones currently on the list. This is foolish, often you don’t discover the benefits of a new variety until you’ve been growing it for several years, for example when a new disease comes along that it turns out to be resistant to. In a free market, it should be up to farmers to try out any new crop they like and decide what variety is best based on their own experience. 
There’s no real need for this complex new regulation. We already had very strong consumer-protection laws that cover all this – seeds must be fit for the purpose sold, match their description, and perform as advertised. The old seed laws already covered health, traceability and safety. Anyone who produces seed is already inspected and certified by the Secretary of State. 
This is an instance of bureaucracy out of control. All this new law does is create a whole new raft of EU civil servants being paid to move mountains of papers round all day, while interfering with the right of people to grow what they want, and charging fees for the use of plants that were domesticated and bred by the public over thousands of years of small-scale agriculture. 
It is also very worrying that they have given themselves the power to regulate and licence any plant species of any sort at all in the future – not just agricultural plants, but grasses, mosses, flowers, anything at all – without having to bring it back to the Council for a vote. 
This law was written for the needs of the globalised 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, who have very different needs. 
We call for a total exemption from the law for seed supplied in small packets directly to individual consumers.

NOTES TO EDITORS

*Plant Reproductive Material Law was before the EU commissioners on May 6th 2013
*Law drafted by DG SANCO (consumer affairs), internally opposed by DG AGRI & ENVI (agriculture & environment)
*Executive Summary of Law does not reflect stricter reality of the actual articles in the law
*Law will effectively kills off professional development of home-garden seeds in the EU
*Huge public opposition: over 200,000 signatures to the Arche Noah petition
http://translate.google.co.uk/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF8&eotf=1&u=http%3A//helfen.global2000.at/de/node/19
*Media contact: Ben Gabel, The Real Seed Catalogue: ben@realseeds.co.uk

ABOUT THE REAL SEED CATALOGUE:

The Real Seed Catalogue (www.realseeds.co.uk) is a well-known DEFRA-registered seed supplier, based in Wales, that specialises in breeding and supplying vegetable seed specially suited to the needs of home gardeners. As a not-for-profit company dedicated to the needs of home gardeners, it is also one of the UK’s premier seed-saving organisations, educating the public about seed saving and how to preserve their own heritage varieties of vegetables at home.

1) SIGN the petition(s)

There are several petitions organised for this. The biggest is the Arche Noah petition which you should sign here. 200,000 signatures so far!
http://translate.google.co.uk/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF8&eotf=1&u=http%3A//helfen.global2000.at/de/node/19

Another one is the English-language version of the Seed Sovereignty petition (there is one for each EU language, so the total numbers are lower for each.)
https://www.openpetition.de/petition/online/seed-diversity-under-threat-no-european-seed-regulations-for-the-benefit-of-the-seed-industry#googtrans(de|en)
Please sign both and share these links.

2) CHECK OUT OUR FACEBOOK PAGE
http://www.facebook.com/realseedcatalogue?ref=hl

We will post updates on our Facebook Page as we get more information.

EVEN MORE INFORMATION – and a warning

The law itself is linked below if you want to wade through it. But before you start, a very important warning:

You cannot just read the first 5 pages or so that are an “executive summary”, and think you know what this law is about. The executive summary is NOT what will become the law. It is the actual Articles themselves that become law, the Summary has no legal standing and is just tacked on as an aid to the public and legislators, it is supposed to give background information and set the proposed legislation in context so people know what is going on and why.

The problem with this law has always been that the Summary says lots of nice fluffy things about preserving biodiversity, simplifying legislation, making things easier etc etc – things we all would love – but the Articles of the law actually do completely the opposite. And the Summary is not what becomes the law.

For example, the Summary of drafts 1,2, & 3 talked about making things easier for “Amateur” varieties. But the entire class of Amateur vegetables – which we have spent 5 yearsworking with DEFRA to register – was actually abolished entirely in the Articles right from the start. Yet the Summary , and press releases based on it, still talked about how it will help preserve Amateur varieties! The Summary is completely bogus. Do not base your views of the law on it!

So, be warned. By all means, read it yourself. But you have to ignore the Summary as that is not the Law, and does not reflect what is in the Law.

Official version of the Law as of May 6th is Here
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/pressroom/docs/proposal_aphp_en.pdf

This article appeared at OccupyMonsanto360.org


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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Apparently, nature will soon be illegal in the EU.

Really people, how stupid does this have to get before we say NO to the idiots who pretend to represent us?

Anonymous said...

Last minute changes to let the Dutch keep growing their sweet sticky weed XD

-flek

Anonymous said...


"Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them."
Frederick Douglass-
American ex-slave

"I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs."
Frederick Douglass


"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive....Or if, during periods of mass arrests.... people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The State would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...

Anonymous said...

"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive... or in periods of mass arrests...people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The State would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if..."

Alesandr Solzhenitsyn

Anonymous said...

I think we have just got there. I am saying no right now to as many people as I can think of.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the new nazi dictators of Europe. This is what most people vote for. The ultimate guilt is of everyone who votes for these politicians.

I think it is an easier solution to just get out of Europe. It is just a tremendous lack of common sense, they want to control every detail of our lives. It looks Europe in learning from North Korea, Stalin, Hitler and many other draconian law makers.

Human stupidity seems infinite like Einstein said.

Anonymous said...

wake up and smell the facism!

Anonymous said...

WE must stop EU!! If it necessary disolve EU!!!! They broke the line. Seeds, water arn't from corporations!!! Man I'm mad!!! Lobbying = coruption!! Monsanto, Dupoint, stop them!!

Anonymous said...

People you must know lobbying is the same as corruption!! As Mosanto and Dupoint does. The try destroy our biotic diversity. Our gran, gran, granfathers develop our seeds many years even hundred years. Plants are adjusted to their environment. Monsanto geneticly changed plants are not adjusted tu our environment and they need more and more pesticides to grow up. Stop geneticly change organisms!! For our own good.

Anonymous said...

I have watched the growth of big brother for many
years now.how the Rothchilds and thier like have created a world of debt and chaos .The rises and falls of the market are not accidental but carefully contrived to achieve an end.The death suffering is of no consequence to these people .Divide and conquer has been achieved beautifully
Consider this
They have all the media so you are only told what they want you to think They have been carefully making up excuses to interfere in other countries on the pretex of weapons of mass destruction etc etc A total illusion to fool the public .Ask any Lybian in the street if they were better off with Gadaffi ,and the answerwill be yes.Look at the 9 11 fiasco
Anyone with half a brain can see that it was a demolition job, but they still persuing thier aim of world domination.
It matters little who you elect They cant function because of the huge debt .
How many realise that the Queen has no rights and control over the City of London.
This latest seed take over is only another fascet in the overall game
Action is called for not words, and if it is not instigated soon it will be too late for all of us

Annie Green said...

How does legal translation affect all of this?

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