A learning curve

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A post on the Eco Hvar Facebook page led to an unexpected response. Eco Hvar learned a lot!

Novi list- 2013, 2017! Novi list- 2013, 2017!

On April 25th 2017, I came across an article on a Croatian news website, Novi list, stating that the European Commission was about to issue a directive proposing drastic seed control measures, which would mean that only standardized 'approved' seeds could be sown, not only for commercial agriculture, but even in private gardens. Shocked, I posted the link on the Eco Hvar Facebook page.

The post evoked some interesting reactions.

One comment declared that it was 'fake news', and that such 'semi-information, which is very dangerous and tendentious, is being spread around Croatia by extreme right-wing circles who opposed Croatia's entry into the EU.'

As it turned out, the news was not fake, but old. It did actually happen. I hadn't noticed that the article was published in May 2013. The EC did indeed present the seed control proposal at that time. It was withdrawn in 2015. You can read the EC proposal here, and a description of the proposal in English here. An account of organised opposition to the proposal is accessible here.

The news was old, but still served a purpose, as the issue lies at the heart of the differences between so-called conventional agriculture (using chemical pesticides and fertilizers) and organic practices.

WHAT I LEARNED

1. Legislation for the control of seeds is proposed for a variety of different reasons. Some, such as protection of indigenous flora and fauna, are worthwhile, others, especially protecting the commercial interests of the big agrochemical companies, are not.

2  Seed control is an issue which is being debated worldwide. For instance, it is a major cause for concern among environmentalists in the United States, New Zealand, Romania, India and Brazil. It is an issue also strongly linked to the development of GMO crops for which related seeds have been patented. Food production is a major economic activity, which is controlled by relatively few (huge) international companies.

3. Denmark has shown that EU seed protection laws can be interpreted by member nations to the satisfaction of environmental groups: 'Denmark has just become the European Union role model for biodiversity friendly seed marketing laws, putting pressure on every other country in the EU currently embracing the push to corporatize our seed heritage to follow suit.'  (Seed Freedom, March 2017)

4. This particular EC proposal did not progress, although it took two years for it to be abandoned. The subject may come up again. Seed control means control of the food supply. The major agrochemical companies would be likely to support any initiative to extend that control at national government level, if they felt it would increase their influence.

5. Environmentalists have to be on permanent guard against any proposed legislation which threatens the free practice of organic agriculture. The individual's right to choose organic plant and crop cultivation, and the consumer's right to buy organic products must never be undermined.

© Vivian Grisogono MA(Oxon) 2017

 

 

 

 

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