Brussels Re-Confirms its Stance on Seed Diversity

Sebastian von Holstein
Wednesday, 5th September 2012

Seed Diversity is a hot topic this month. In the build up to Vandana Shiva's 'Occupy the Seed' fortnight of action, we report on the latest developments concerning seed sovereignty and suggest ways for you to get involved.

Over a month ago, a small French seed company challenged the EU Marketing Directive that restricts the availability and variety of seed available for purchase by both farmers and gardeners. The European Court of Justice in Brussels ruled in favour of current legislation, leaving many leading charities and organisations feeling dismayed.

The trade embargo on non-registered seed varieties remains in place, putting rare 'heritage' seeds at a much higher risk of extinction, while limiting variety for gardeners and commercial growers.

"Seed Diversity Remains Endangered!" says Seed Sovereignty Campaign

Photo from www.kew.orgAndreas Riekeberg from the Seed Sovereignty campaign describes this as a slap in the face "for those concerned with agricultural diversity". He states that the court did not take into account Advocate General Kokott's critic concerning the "ongoing destruction of biodiversity on the fields and in the gardens driven by the respective directives."

We should all question a judgment that unconditionally supports "the seed industry and their uniform varieties which only grow with the help of chemical inputs, be it pesticides or fertilizers."

How Will the EU's Seed Policy Decision Affect You?

As a gardener or commercial grower, your access to different varieties of seeds has and will continue to diminish due to increasing pressure inflicted on seed savers and commercial seed banks.

The EU directive is directly concerned with the capping of conservation varieties in order to prevent the emergence of a "parallel market [...] likely to constitute an impediment to the internal market for seed of vegetable varieties." In other words, the EU will not support the promotion of seed diversity if it is seen to interfere with the business of market-dominating corporations.

Spread the Word - Use Permaculture Networks to Increase Seed Bio-Diversity

The most effective way to increase your seed freedom is to spread the word. Join or create a seed bank, using local, heritage and native varieties of seeds. These are better suited to our climates and will help to drastically increase biodiversity.

Government policy is heavily influenced by the consumer, therefore attempt where possible to avoid patented and genetically modified seeds. As Ben Raskin, head of horticulture for the soil association says, "the resilience of our farming systems depend on a wide range of genetics within the food chain. It is vital that these varieties are maintained as a collection amongst growers." Any grass root initiative will help to support the challenge of creating a resilient worldwide food system, capable of surpassing the effects of global warming and food scarcity. 

For more information on Vandana Shiva's 'Occupy the Seed' campaign, read our story on

Look at our Calendar for more seed diversity events such as the 'Food from the Sky' seed bank event.

You can also Download a FREE eBook, A Guide to Seed Saving, Seed Stewardship & Seed Sovereignty By The Seed Ambassadors Project.

Click here to visit the official Seed Sovereignty Campaign website