27 April 2013. The EU wants to regulate cultivation of all fruits and vegetables … even in private gardens!
The Regulation on Marketing of Plant Reproductive Material goes before the EU Commision on May 6th 2013. The EC wants to impose on farmers and gardeners in the future the use of standard seeds. Old and rare varieties have little chance of an approval, their cultivation will be punishable by law – even if it takes place in private gardens.
The European Commission is working on a revision of the European seed market in the form of a regulation. A decision of the European Court legalized in July 2012 says that farmers are allowed to sell only officially authorized seed. So far, old and rare seed varieties that were grown in small quantities were excluded. But the new Regulation will disallow small farmers or private persons to give away their homegrown seeds in the future.
The Austrian environmental organizations say that many conventional vegetables and cereals will thus disappear from cultivation. The registration of all varieties is mandatory and leads to a complete unification. The small-scale agriculture will be forced to comply with insurmountable bureaucratic and financial hurdles to register old seed varieties. Environmentalists fear a strict official control, using non-approved seed varieties will lead to harsh penalties.
Consumers will have less freedom of choice, less diversity, less colours, less taste and less nutrition on their plates. We all should have access to any type of seeds, especially plant species that are adapted to local conditions. These locally grown plants tend to use less pesticides, fertilizers and water and reduce the pollution of soil and water. Who will benefit when they disappear? Who will benefit from the seed normisation? Only food groups that already own the majority of the seed market. The objective seems to be the control of the entire food production by a few large corporations.
The EU Commission will submit their draft to the European Parliament on May 6th, and the Parliament will have to deal with it. The EU citizens are unaware of this fundamental decisions being taken in their Parliament. Do you hear anything about this seed regulation in the mainstream media? Probably not.
The draft of the regulation reflects the interests of the industry and not of the public: The regulation requires registration of the plants as VARIETIES and the certification of individual lots of propagation material. To be registered on the official catalogue, the variety has to be Distinct, highly Uniform and Stable (DUS) and in some case, mostly for agricultural species, it has to show that it complies with the criteria of “Value for Cultivation and Use (VCU)”. This requirements are tested through field sampling, laboratory tests and comparison with varieties already registered.
What will nature say about Distinct, highly Uniform and Stable (DUS) plant varieties? Cultivated and wild plants in natural conditions can not escape the laws of evolution, living organisms are diverse (not uniform), and able to develop (not stable). Why market only Distinct, Uniform and Stable plant varieties and endanger a wide spectrum of biodiversity?
The Distinct, highly Uniform and Stable tests are primarily needed to define distinctive “plant groupings” in order to be able to claim plant variety certificates or private exclusive rights on them. Modern varieties tend to be genetically very similar due to common genealogy, and it then easy to achieve private property rights. It would be very hard to prove who owns a variety if it was highly homogeneous.
Tests for DUS registration are carried out under intensive farming conditions and the seeds are compared with industrial seeds on intensive farming conditions. Thereby, modern variety registration discriminates against farming systems other than high input agroindustrial production: agro-ecological systems or farmers facing harsh agro-climatic conditions.
Historically, the system of certification has been designed to improve transparency and quality on a developing seed market, starting from the 1920’s. Registration of varieties first was voluntary, but converted into a legal obligation during the war time economy to force agricultural productivity, but often in the context of fascist ideology of separating “pure and valuable” from “inferior” material, e.g. in the German Third Reich. The obligatory registration was further expanded to promote the modernization and industrialization of agriculture, whilst protecting the interests of agro-industry at the same time.
While we witness a massive loss of genetic resources within the last decades, industrial farming systems create huge ecological problems, agro-chemical industry continue to dominate the seed market – the Regulation on Marketing of Plant Reproductive Material continues in the same destructive approach. The system of obligatory registration and certification will become even more totalitarian, restrictive and overregulated than in the past. And very little provisions will be left in the competence of Member States rendering them unable to ensure food sovereignty on their territory. Farmers activities of exchanging seeds of their own harvest will be illegal.
Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, April 23, 2013