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Putting planet and growers at the core of seed legislation

Concepta Cassar: The arrival of March marks the melting of winter into spring, and the long-awaited emergence of new life from the depths of the cold season. Snow drops, daffodils and crocuses bring light where there was once darkness, and the first-sown seeds of the year finally start to raise their sleepy heads. Around the country, people will be cracking open bean pods and shaking out little envelopes, while the seed industry celebrates an early cash crop.

10 March 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Seed saving: the EU horizon and a renewed resurgence

Ben Raskin: We had a good growing season in 2014 with a dry summer and autumn, giving us some good seed ready for planting this year. Meanwhile, at a political level the EU Plant Reproductive Material (seeds, cuttings and baby plants to you and me) legal shenanigans continued. The proposed regulation from the European Commission wanted to simplify the existing confused and cumbersome laws, as well as provide a platform to increase exports to outside the EU and safeguard human health. But this proposal would have further sustained the dominance of the big seed companies (like Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta) and drastically reduced the number of seed varieties available for growing. The Soil Association, along with many others campaigned against these proposals.

30 January 2015 | 4 Comments | Recommended by 0

Devil’s Rib or Dragon Tongue Bush?

Ben Raskin: How do you decide what to grow? Which varieties will do well and which will be a waste of space. The alluring descriptions that fill the pages of most seed catalogues have been the undoing of many a grower. I always get carried away and buy more than I need. My seed container currently has a range that rivals Imelda Marcos’ famous shoe collection.

08 October 2014 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 21

Using a chainsaw to crack a nut

Ben Raskin: It is sometimes said that you get 10 growers together and you will have 10 different opinions, but I recently spent a day with Defra and lots of people from various horticultural walks of life (most of them not organic) and we were almost unanimous in our view of the EU Commission’s latest offering in the form of the Seed Directive. We agreed that a) most of the problems it seemed to be trying to solve were at worst a small problem to a small minority of people and b) this certainly wouldn’t be the best way of solving them.

12 July 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 7

Saving seeds, securing the future

Ben Raskin: Recently the Soil Association has been speaking out over proposed EU laws which, amongst other things, could have meant small growers and people with allotments or gardeners couldn’t swap their home saved seeds. The proposed regulations caused public outcry across Europe but luckily, last minute changes to the directive look like good news for growers and small seed companies.

30 May 2013 | 3 Comments | Recommended by 2

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