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Repeal EU law outlawing 800 traditional vegetable varieties

Comment 18th July 2010

The EU law outlawing 800 traditional vegetable varieties should be repealed to ensure these varieties do not become extinct.

The EU should not have the power to decide what the British people, or any people, can and cannot eat and grow. 

Quotes:

'800 traditional vegetable varieties once grown in Britain are now outlawed by European legislation' – http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/07/outlawed_seeds.php

'In the past 100 years, 90 percent of UK's vegetable varieties have been lost, with the same happening in much of the industrialized world'. – http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/07/outlawed_seeds.php

'Farmers and growers no longer have the automatic right to save seed of varieties covered by plant breeders' rights (PBR). Under PBR new vegetable varieties can be registered by breeders who then receive a royalty from all of those who use the variety. In the US plants can also be patented and in countries in the European Union vegetable varieties can only be sold if they have been registered on a National List. A substantial fee has to be paid in order to register and an annual maintainance fee is also necessary in order to keep the variety on the list. The price of this fee is the same regardless of how many packets of that variety of seed are actually sold. This registration fee means that it would be uneconomic for many small seed suppliers to sell seeds for which there wasn't a great deal of demand. Also in order to be registered, each variety has to pass a strict DUS test. This shows that it is uniform and distinct from other varieties. Unfortunately, many old varieties are not sufficiently uniform to satisfy this legislation and therefore cannot be registered. It is illegal to sell seeds that are not registered on the National List and anyone offering unlisted varieties can be prosecuted. Consequently many once commercial favourites can no longer be sold.

Why is it important that we continue to grow the traditional varieties of vegetables? Heritage, or heirloom, vegetables are important because they contain a wealth of genetic material which could be of vital importance in the future. They should not be discarded and replaced with modern varieties, simply because the latter appear to have more useful characteristics at the moment. Indeed it would be extremely risky and unwise to do this, because nobody knows exactly what the future has in store for us! No one can predict with any great certainty exactly which genetic characteristics will be of importance in 50 or more years time. Nor can anyone know which pests and diseases will be around then, or what the climate will be like. It is, therefore, vitally important that we maintain genetic diversity by preserving as many different species of plants as possible. For it is only by doing this, that we can ensure that we have the best possible chance of successfully adapting to future conditions – whatever they may be.' – http://www.btinternet.com/~bury_rd/heritage.htm

Why does this matter?

This is another example of EU bureaucracy interfering, which will permanently change the organic landscape for the worse.

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