Friday, 10 May 2013

Seed ban rumours may be a bit overgrown

I am receiving lots of emails from keen gardeners who are concerned about rumours that there is going to be an EU ban on heritage seeds.  I have spoken to the EU Commissioner responsible. Currently there are a number of EU laws that are trying to ensure seeds sold by large manufacturers for agriculture are correctly labelled.  These laws currently require that all seeds should be registered.  This is clearly unworkable and impractical. 

Therefore the Commissioner has proposed to radically simplify the registration and to give specific exemptions for niche seeds and private gardeners as well as a lower compliance level for "traditional seeds" and small companies.

As readers will know I often have  disagreements with comments made by EU commissioners but this time I was more hopeful. I have been campaigning for small businesses to get exemptions from EU laws and it sounds as if these draft proposals intend to do just that.

The new rules are not finalised.  In coming months MEPs will be allowed to table amendments.

I am going to get in touch with Rothamsted Research and John Innes Centre, both leading agricultural research organisations in East Anglia and custodians of heritage seed banks, and will get their advice.   As a gardener I think it's extremely important that we nurture our diverse heritage of plants and we shouldn't allow this European legislation to get too overbearing. I will fight for a rolling back of regulation.

No comments: