: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan  ( 1659 )

Big Gee

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Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« : December 01, 2013, 11:57:43 PM »

 By Matthew Appleby Thursday, 28 November 2013

Garden Organic and allies have issued a seven step Save Our Seeds plan and a call to "turn back the tide" over the latest amendements to damaging EU proposals on plant reproductive material.

The call from the alliance of concerned UK organisations which includes UK NGOs, small seed producers, plant breeders and trade associations, comes in response to a draft report issued by the EU’s chief rapporteur for agriculture, Sergio Sylvestris.

In the report, Italian MEP Sylvestris seeks to repeal many of the exemptions for amateur growers and small producers that had been won in the original Regulation on Marketing of Plant Reproductive Material (PRM) draft directive, issued in May.

The new recommendations include exemptions only for statutory gene banks – only two exist in the UK – and not the living gene banks with community networks of growers such as Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library (HSL).

Exemptions for smaller seed growers are also being removed as are exemptions for open pollinated niche market varieties developed after the directive – a move that threatens future plant breeding and biodiversity.

In response, Garden Organic and allies have launched a seven point Save Our Seeds Plan outlining what needs to be included in the new draft directive. The group has also consulted with DEFRA on the plans, launched a letter campaign targeted at MEPs, and a Save Our Seeds social media campaign aimed at the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development  (DG AGRI) and Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENVI), Chief and Shadow Rapporteurs.

Garden Organic development director Brett Willers said: "The new proposals being suggested in Mr Sivelstris’s report are very concerning and raise key issues. They include adverse effects on small businesses specialising in producing niche market varieties who will not be able to afford the costly licensing fees and as a result could go out of business.

He added: "There is also the anti-competitive nature of these proposals as they make it more difficult for imports of plant material into the EU and risk similar restrictions being imposed upon EU growers exporting outside of the EU. Farmers, growers and the consumer will also be faced with limited choice as a large number of varieties are eliminated from potential future production.

"Food security will be threatened with less genetic variation available for future plant breeding and a loss of  biodiversity as costly registration procedures and exemptions limited to statutory seed banks restrict the development of new varieties. We therefore urge the EU Rapporteurs to ‘turn back the tide’ on these new proposals and implement the right decisions when formulating the new directive."

The Save Our Seeds Plan outlines seven key asks to be implemented as part of the  Regulation on Marketing of Plant Reproductive Material (PRM) directive. The seven asks are:

1.    The Regulation on Marketing of Plant Reproductive Material (PRM) only be applied to major food crops and the agricultural market. It should not apply to the activities of gardeners, those in amenity horticulture, wildlife conservation or smallholder and allotment growers.

2.    Recognise the value and importance of living seed banks like the Heritage Seed Library (HSL) and seed exchange networks by exempting them from the regulations. This enable heritage and niche plant varieties to adapt to change over time and thus ensure they remain viable in the future.

3.    Not limit exemption from the DUS ruling to open pollinated varieties developed before the Directive comes into effect. Instead it should allow commercial activities to continue in the further development of open pollinated varieties for niche markets, as this will enhance biodiversity and food security.

4.    Reconsider the requirement for DUS testing as many plants especially ornamentals and a number of vegetables do not conform to distinct characterisations.

5.    Apply restrictions to the marketing and sale of seeds and plant reproductive materials only where large quantities are sold above a certain level for large-scale horticultural and agricultural use. All seed companies regardless of their company size (employee and turnover) should be exempt from the regulations if selling plants material that is destined for use to either:

       a) cover a limited area or
       b) have a packet size below a certain number or weight.

If the larger seed companies were concerned about the smaller companies having exemptions      from licensing and registration (note the removal of the exemption for companies with ten employees or less than 2m Euro turnover) this approach would satisfy their concerns.

6.    Not restrict the development of exempted varieties of plants to their locality of origin but allow for their use in developing new acclimatised plants elsewhere e.g. the Latvian Pea although originating from Latvia has a UK variety that has become acclimatised to our conditions in the UK over time and is different from the original Latvian Pea.

7.    Not be anti competitive. As it stands at the moment it would restrict the movement of plant material into and out of the EU resulting in likely restrictions coming into effect in other trading block areas as retaliation to the EU Directive

A declaration has been signed by 20 European organisations as part of a Pan-European co-ordinated campaign lobby aimed at securing the important amendments and exemptions for new Regulation on Marketing of Plant Reproductive Material (PRM) seed regulations
 

galina

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #1 : December 13, 2013, 05:49:05 PM »
From HDRA/GO website here are the 'What we can do' pointers:


HOW DO WE URGE THEM TO ADOPT THE PLAN?


Things to do
1.Download draft letters to the Chief Rapporteur Sergio Silvestris and his fellow Chief and Shadow Rapporteurs.
2.Cut and paste the text from our letters into individual e-mails listed in our Chief and Shadow Rapporteurs list
3.Alternatively go to Chief and Shadow Rapporteurs Group Mail document and send letter text to Group
4.Send your tweets of disaproval to Chief and Shadow Rapporteurs using the above list

The sample letters and information can be found here
http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/support_us/saveourseeds.php


galina

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #2 : December 13, 2013, 05:54:18 PM »
Very good summary can be found here from the Real Seed Company, and again a sample letter that can be used to lobby against these wrong proposed EU regulations.


http://www.realseeds.co.uk/seedlaw2.html

Lobbying works, if we do nothing, we will have to live with the consequences. 

Big Gee

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #3 : December 13, 2013, 07:03:24 PM »
Very good summary can be found here from the Real Seed Company, and again a sample letter that can be used to lobby against these wrong proposed EU regulations.


http://www.realseeds.co.uk/seedlaw2.html

Lobbying works, if we do nothing, we will have to live with the consequences.

I couldn't agree more with you galina!
 

Tony

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #4 : December 17, 2013, 09:12:15 PM »
Consider voting for an anti EU party?

galina

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #5 : December 18, 2013, 08:17:28 AM »
Consider voting for an anti EU party?

This is not an effective strategy (which way you vote is of course your personal choice).  None of the anti EU parties have this in their manifesto.  Much better to join with like minded gardeners all over the EU in this campaign, as we are all affected in the same way.  And even if the proposed new laws would not apply in the UK, that would only save UK heritage seeds (perhaps).  We need to work towards saving the rich diversity of European heritage seeds in all European countries. 

Big Gee

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #6 : December 18, 2013, 11:42:37 AM »
Consider voting for an anti EU party?

This is not an effective strategy (which way you vote is of course your personal choice).  None of the anti EU parties have this in their manifesto.  Much better to join with like minded gardeners all over the EU in this campaign, as we are all affected in the same way.  And even if the proposed new laws would not apply in the UK, that would only save UK heritage seeds (perhaps).  We need to work towards saving the rich diversity of European heritage seeds in all European countries.

Absolutely agree galina. This is a globale issue. Europe are just following in the footsteps of the US model. This is an attempt to rope the growing of food at all levels into the commercial trap laid by global seed supply companies. Some of the biggest players are US based companies - like Monsanto. The 'collateral damage' (to quote another American term) are the heritage varieties of seed diversity that has naturally developed since man first started to grow his crops for food. At the expense of wiping out all this diversity (both bio and genetic) the global companies have exerted pressure - through lobbying and enticement - on the EU MEPs to change legislation so that the whole process of producing and supplying seeds is skewed to generate money for these companies, but more importantly, it gives them total control over what we will LEGALLY be allowed to grow!

It has zero to do with voting for an anti EU political party based in the UK. In fact doing so could endanger other areas of good EU legislation, like for example the use of neonicotinoids (ironically also produced by companies like Bayer and Monsanto), where the UK was reluctant to to conform to EU legislation to regulate the use of these poisons which are KNOWN to be poisoning pollinators and are a major factor in the colony collapse disorder of honey bees. Had the UK been allowed to follow it's own course on that issue we might have seen the total destruction of food crop production on these isles.

The BIG problem is that money and influence overrides sensibility, as huge companies flex their muscles and gullible politicians get conned into producing legislation on subjects they know next to nothing about themselves.

As galina says this is a specific battle - outside of party political lines - where the voices of the small growers must be heard over the noise produced by the big multinationals, who basically couldn't care a hoot about the damage - as long as they are in control and nurturing their fat bank accounts.
 

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #7 : December 18, 2013, 09:45:25 PM »
 doh:-{

galina

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #8 : December 19, 2013, 09:47:50 AM »
Nice Save our Seeds write-up Big G!   clap:-)

I would like to comment a bit further on two of the 7 points above.  Just to bring home some of their actual implications to those of us who are seedsaving and breeding our own vegetable varieties.

These are points 3 and 4 above.

(quote)
3.    Not limit exemption from the DUS ruling to open pollinated varieties developed before the Directive comes into effect. Instead it should allow commercial activities to continue in the further development of open pollinated varieties for niche markets, as this will enhance biodiversity and food security.
4.    Reconsider the requirement for DUS testing as many plants especially ornamentals and a number of vegetables do not conform to distinct characterisations.
(eoq)

If this legislation was to come into force as proposed, what would it mean to Aeron Purple Star and Court Estate Gold (a pea variety I have bred)?  It would at a stroke 'forbid' all new amateur breeding or variety development work.  It would not be legal to give them away or to sell them and they would not be legal in any case, because any new variety would need to pass DUS testing.   Currently there is actually quite a lot of amateur vegetable breeding happening.  Much of it is so called 'landrace' breeding.  Deliberate crossing of many varieties, in order to collect many characteristics, then wide selection, not of the most uniform but of the best yielding, best production under less than ideal conditions, in difficult locations etc.  Grown and selected for minimal input conditions.  Just what the global seed companies, who as a rule also sell fertiliser and insecticide to farmers, do not want.  These new landrace varieties are sold or given away as 'not yet finished'  new varieties.  There is still considerable scope for the gardener to select their own strain, adapted to their conditions.  In summary, seeds that are not uniform, have been selected for productivity and low input growing and can be 'finished' by gardeners.  Are the global seed companies worried by this type of amateur breeding?  Is that why they are trying to clamp down so hard right now? 

DUS means testing for being 'distinct, uniform and stable'.  How distinct from other varieties does a new variety have to be?  How uniform?  Is a landrace type old variety that carries a wider variety of genes, because it has been grown for centuries and picked up modifications by lots of small mutations, uniform enough?  You bet that a new commercial hybrid variety is totally uniform in all aspects, including uniformity of harvest time - a genetic 'bottleneck' that only performs well under very controlled growing conditions.  Something gardeners do not want or need.  And who wants a glut of peas in June and none in July?  Farmers do, they want to combine-harvest a whole field and get all of the crop in one go.  Gardeners want a widely spaced harvest time.  I swapped bean seeds of an old type of bean that had been going round Bristol Allotments for well over a century, passed from one seedsaving gardener to another.  Then we had frost on the 6th of June one year.  Beans were planted and had started to climb.  Half of those bean plants died, the other half made it.  Planted all in the same row, right next to each other.  Slightly different genetic make-up I think.  When I grew offspring of the same variety next time, a few years later, by coincidence we had another year with an unexpected very late frost.  This time all plants survived and plants from other varieties got killed.  I was glad that some of the Bristol beans had picked up a bit more cold resistance in our location that is prone to unseasonal frosts.  I was glad that they were not uniform in their genetic make-up.   

To add to point 4. above.  In addition to lack of distinctiveness, plant varieties that are very desirable for gardeners also do not necessarily need to conform to 'uniformity' requirements nor 'genetic stability' either.  For example, if I buy an F4 selection of a new variety of tomato from a modern landrace breeder, I buy it in the full knowledge that it will be different (better adapted) when I make my final selections in future years.  This is the whole point of modern landrace breeding.  Another amateur breeder described how he grew and deliberately let cross, the same 3 winter squash varieties year after year.  He only chose seeds from the best tasting, best keeping and most productive squash plants.  He noted that after many years of this breeding (carefully excluding contamination with any other pollen!), he is still getting fruits that are outwardly showing the characteristics of the original 3 types, but they are larger, better adapted and higher yielding in his location.  Would his seeds not be good for other gardeners in his area?  Even though it clearly does not fulfil the requirements of DUS?  Why should he not give away, swap or sell these seeds, clearly labelled to explain what they are?

Sorry this has turned into a lengthy post again.  Just wanted to make the point that the new proposed legislation is not only about saving heritage varieties, it is about much more.  And as we are all aware of amateur breeding on this board, there are added reasons for us to make our voice heard and lobby against the proposed legislation.   

« : December 19, 2013, 11:44:22 AM galina »

Big Gee

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #9 : December 19, 2013, 01:54:27 PM »
Don't apologise for being 'lengthy' galina. Length of post is fine when it's that interesting (says one 'lengthy poster to another! I also have a tendency to do the same - but if it's there to be said why curtail the writing?).

Thank you also for your kind words, that was the reason why I was absent from the forum for most of yesterday! I hope our members and other 'guests' take the time to read it.

Again you've hit the nail on the head galina. My Aeron Purple Star beans are a good example of what you say. I've trialled them - but not in an exacting environment, but within my capacity as an amateur grower. Within my ability, I've tried to spread out the process, by getting others to grow them in different areas, but, they are not totally guaranteed to be 100% true and tested. They probably would not pass the 'distinct, uniform & stable' requirements for a commercial grower under this new legislation - but who cares? Surely that is NOT what it's about at our level.

There are some varieties - often nameless - that have been grown for generations, sometimes by relatively small groups of gardeners (often just within one village). They are perfectly adapted for that specific area, through a process of selective seed collection. THAT'S what gardening is about surely?

This legislation is a one eyed view of the overall picture that focuses purely on the huge global commercial aspect of things. It's absolute madness, concocted (I guess) by accountants & boardroom executives that are are not gardeners.

The whole thing makes my blood boil - not just from a gardening point of view, but because it also tramples all over our basic human rights & freedoms. It's disgusting, whichever way you look at it.

Sprouts (being the seasonal topic at this time of the year) are a classic example of what you say. Modern F1 hybrids all mature at the same time so that they can be harvested in huge quantities all together on one day. That is a total opposite of what an allotment grower needs from his plants, where you need to harvest for your immediate needs over a long period. However, because we are forced to grow the offerings of the large seed companies, we land up with a row of sprouts that all mature together giving you a glut this week and a famine the next!

Keep them coming galina - you're doing a fine job for the cause. By the way fancy swapping some of those  "Court Estate Gold" for a handful of my Aeron Purple Stars?  ThU:-)
 

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #10 : January 10, 2014, 08:41:52 PM »
Signed and sent the letter to my MEP every little helps or something similar Grin2:-)

squirrel

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #11 : January 10, 2014, 11:05:32 PM »
I have a niggling fear at the back of my mind that I can't prove or disprove but none the less it does worry me somewhat.

So let's presume the big boys get there way and open pollinated plants get fazed out of general cultivation and the amateur breeder is not just stripped of the right to try to improve what he has, but also stripped of the basic material and thus ability to cross pollinate.

What happens if somewhere down the line, perhaps a long way down the line (as with mad-cow disease etc.) some major hazard or problem is found to be as a result of this intensive breeding and genetic engineering?

Where would we source the materials to go back to basics whilst also finding sufficient, (by then old fashioned) seeds to grow enough food to feed us.

I truly hope this fear is just the product of my half Celtic, over imaginative mind.
However I have lived long enough to have seen at first hand the wrecking of lives because something we were told was good for us turned out to be the exact opposite. Also to see for how many years successive governments have refused to acknowledge any of the contradictory science whilst swallowing hook line and sinker the reports coming out from laboratories that have a vested interest in hiding the truth.
squirrels are often out their trees but never short of nuts.

galina

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #12 : January 11, 2014, 08:20:41 AM »
I have a niggling fear at the back of my mind that I can't prove or disprove but none the less it does worry me somewhat.

So let's presume the big boys get there way and open pollinated plants get fazed out of general cultivation and the amateur breeder is not just stripped of the right to try to improve what he has, but also stripped of the basic material and thus ability to cross pollinate.

What happens if somewhere down the line, perhaps a long way down the line (as with mad-cow disease etc.) some major hazard or problem is found to be as a result of this intensive breeding and genetic engineering?

Where would we source the materials to go back to basics whilst also finding sufficient, (by then old fashioned) seeds to grow enough food to feed us.

I truly hope this fear is just the product of my half Celtic, over imaginative mind.
However I have lived long enough to have seen at first hand the wrecking of lives because something we were told was good for us turned out to be the exact opposite. Also to see for how many years successive governments have refused to acknowledge any of the contradictory science whilst swallowing hook line and sinker the reports coming out from laboratories that have a vested interest in hiding the truth.

The same few companies that are engaged in GM, hybridising varieties and general food control, who are working so hard to get traditional seeds off the market and off the hands of gardeners in favour of their own seeds, have the biggest banks of freezers where they have kept samples of all the seeds they are trying to 'outlaw'.  To ensure they stay on top 'just in case'.

galina

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #13 : January 11, 2014, 08:23:06 AM »
Big G, haven't offered any, because I am a bit low on seeds and need a grow-out, sorry.

squirrel

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #14 : January 11, 2014, 09:44:31 AM »
Galina said.    The same few companies that are engaged in GM, hybridising varieties and general food control, who are working so hard to get traditional seeds off the market and off the hands of gardeners in favour of their own seeds, have the biggest banks of freezers where they have kept samples of all the seeds they are trying to 'outlaw'.  To ensure they stay on top 'just in case'.

I know that Galina, but that just adds to my concern. Do you think we would be able t get our hands on them ... NO!
Would there be sufficient to feed the world ... NO!
Would it give them absolute power ... YES!

And it would take years to re-establish the levels of growing open pollinated seeds.
squirrels are often out their trees but never short of nuts.

Big Gee

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #15 : January 11, 2014, 11:43:14 AM »
Big G, haven't offered any, because I am a bit low on seeds and need a grow-out, sorry.

No problem galina - I know what it's like. Don't worry about it!  ;)
 

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #16 : January 11, 2014, 11:50:30 AM »
Galina said.    The same few companies that are engaged in GM, hybridising varieties and general food control, who are working so hard to get traditional seeds off the market and off the hands of gardeners in favour of their own seeds, have the biggest banks of freezers where they have kept samples of all the seeds they are trying to 'outlaw'.  To ensure they stay on top 'just in case'.

I know that Galina, but that just adds to my concern. Do you think we would be able t get our hands on them ... NO!
Would there be sufficient to feed the world ... NO!
Would it give them absolute power ... YES!

And it would take years to re-establish the levels of growing open pollinated seeds.

On a slightly brighter note, unlike when animal numbers go low and they head towards extinction, at least nature has provided a good reproductive rate for most plants. Animals often reproduce at the ratio of 1:1 plants can have a 1000:1 ratio  when it comes to reproduction and each of the 1000 can produce another 1000 each within a year. So that's something to be a little cheerful about (I think)!
 

galina

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #17 : January 11, 2014, 01:09:01 PM »
Galina said.    The same few companies that are engaged in GM, hybridising varieties and general food control, who are working so hard to get traditional seeds off the market and off the hands of gardeners in favour of their own seeds, have the biggest banks of freezers where they have kept samples of all the seeds they are trying to 'outlaw'.  To ensure they stay on top 'just in case'.

I know that Galina, but that just adds to my concern. Do you think we would be able t get our hands on them ... NO!
Would there be sufficient to feed the world ... NO!
Would it give them absolute power ... YES!

And it would take years to re-establish the levels of growing open pollinated seeds.

I say - wasn't that exactly the point I tried to make squirrel?  They have got all the seeds safely locked up in 'THEIR' freezers, the same seeds they are trying to remove from the face of the earth. 

Yes Big G, it would only take a couple of years to multiply sufficiently. 

squirrel

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #18 : January 11, 2014, 11:25:07 PM »
I guess that I misunderstood galina, I thought you were trying to re-assure me that there would be plenty of seeds to restart. Sorry about that.

Anyway, I can think of many, many things that are illegal and there is great difficulty in policing it, I suppose this will just be another one to the list if it goes through.
squirrels are often out their trees but never short of nuts.

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Re: Garden Organic issues seven-point save our seeds plan
« #19 : February 28, 2014, 12:07:20 AM »
Hi Big Gee,
                 For myself I will give the EEC numpties the time honoured two fingered salute and carry on as usual!!!!!

Who the hell are these faceless bureaucrats to tell me what I can and cannot grow. The time is coming and its not to far off when inorganic fertilisers fail to feed Nations. It has been known for some time that inorganic fertilisers have reached the peak of their performance. This is why vast tracts of African arable land is being stolen from native people by their governments for massive back handers.

But its not the UK that the EEC need to worry about. its the French that they need to concern themselves about. France is a nation of weekend farmers whose seed stock has been handed down like ours for hundreds of years.

The lamb wars will seem like a kindergarten party if the powers that be try to interfere with what they grow!!!!!!
That's what I like about the French they don't moan and send e-mails, they get out on the streets and create havoc until someone listens to them!!!!

But its the American 1984 project at work.

Now I have no love for the Chinese political system, but they got it right when they called America "The Great Satan".

Sorry about the rant but I feel the UK has had enough of the EEC its time to get out.

PS:- There won't be enough jails to go around in France if this comes to fruition!!!!!!!


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