There is a lot of talk on the internet about the European Commission outlawing seeds that are not approved by the government. Approval is an expensive process. According to the reports, unapproved seeds will not be allowed not be sold marketed or exchanged.
That's the talk. It sounds so profoundly stupid, unwise, shortsighted, abusive to me, I wonder if it's all true.
Title IV Registration of varieties in national and Union registers. The varieties, in order to be made available on the market throughout the Union, shall be included in a national register or in the Union register via direct application procedure to the CVPO.
Gardeners must also pay fees to the EU bureaucracy for the registration of their seeds. From the proposed law text: The competent authorities and the CPVO should charge fees for the processing of applications, the formal and technical examinations including audits, variety denomination, and the maintenance of the varieties for each year for the duration of the registration.
This is a discussion of the prior, apparently less restrictive, older law.
In Europe, the commercial seed supply system is highly organised and controlled. European law on seed marketing has evolved over the years to ensure that only uniform seeds for industrial farming can be sold on the market, condemning farmers' seeds and traditional varieties to the black market if not complete illegality. Together with strong intellectual property rules and the production of hybrids, European seed laws lock farmers out of the seed system.
A new law proposed by the European Commission would make it illegal to “grow, reproduce or trade” any vegetable seeds that have not been “tested, approved and accepted” by a new EU bureaucracy named the “EU Plant Variety Agency.”
It’s called the Plant Reproductive Material Law, and it attempts to put the government in charge of virtually all plants and seeds. Home gardeners who grow their own plants from non-regulated seeds would be considered criminals under this law.
As with most internet reports, it's hard to know where the truth lies. Taking examples, the Tea Partiers, jumping over one outrage after the next, reading reports about various government excesses and abuses. Those may have an element of truth, a half truth, an incorrect interpretation, or sometimes there may be truth. I don't know where these reports lie in this spectrum.
In the articles I have read, the image is put forth of government agents cracking down on home gardeners who collect their own seeds. Companies, like our seedsavers.org, victory seeds, southern exposure - if there is a European version of such companies - would be forced out of business. It sounds like a Soviet style repression of activities that hurt no one, and by preserving and expanding genetic diversity, may be part of humanity's salvation.
But are the reports true? I don't know I hope not. But maybe.
(all images public domain via commons.wikimedia.org)