The European Commission is drawing up a new law to regulate the sale of all seeds, plants and plant material. This has brought widespread concern and unease among farmers, plant breeders, and the general public.
Biodynamic food company Demeter International and its partners organized a conference on the seed legislation with the support of many NGOs.
The conference “Challenges for producers, consumers and citizens: Who will own the seeds?” took place in Brussels on 22 January 2014 with more than 120 participants including representatives of the European institutions, Member State Authorities, farmers’ associations, breeders, seed savers, university academics, the clergy, and journalists.
MEP Martin Häusling said that seeds are a public good and hence of public interest. Their regulation must be further discussed in public, not only in the European Commission, the European Parliament (EP) and the Council. The Commission’s proposal doesn’t really begin to address sustainable farming and agro-biodiversity.
Silke Helfrich, author and co-founder of the “Commons-Strategies-Group” presented a new concept “Commons vs. commodities – a new framework for seed handling”.
She said that the current legal and political framework is based on the idea of seeds as commodities. But what we really need is legal protection of seeds and breeding as the commons.