Farmers use loopholes to force a law change for seeds, United Kingdom

UK farmers use legal loopholes to recover traditional seeds and to force a change in seed law

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">In the UK, people wanting to farm on a small scale have a difficult time accessing not only land, but also non-industrial seeds. In recent years, they have organised many seed swaps and fairs where traditional varieties are exchanged and people learn about seed selection. Yet the seed groups in the UK work almost exclusively with vegetable seeds, rarely with cereals. Thus, new farmers who want to work with old varieties of cereals have not only a more difficult time obtaining the seeds in the first place, but once they have them, spreading them is also a problem. After all, the older, non-DUS varieties wheat, rye, barley, emmer or einkorn are not registered in the catalogue and therefore cannot be legally sold.</div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">Today’s demand for these cereals did not initially come from farmers but from processors such as bakers who wanted to reclaim traditional ways of baking and were therefore looking for other types of flours. More recently, demand has also come from distillers of alcoholic beverages such as whiskey and even from roof thatchers. Unlike other parts of Europe where thatched roofs are made out of water reeds, traditional thatching in the UK and Ireland uses straw from cereal crops. For this, however, the older, tall-stemmed varieties are needed, since the modern dwarf plants are not adequate for the job. <br/><br/>To overcome the hurdle of selling these varieties of seeds which would be illegal, farmers who select and produce seeds have come up with some creative schemes. For example, they may license, rather than sell their seeds. This way they avoid the ‘transfer of ownership’ (selling or exchanging seeds) which would be illegal under the law. Although the industry does not like it and tries to stop it, farmers are taking advantage of these loopholes. They argue that as more farmers join them and as consumers support them in the effort to bring back diversity to the markets, the laws will eventually have to change in their favour. <br/><br/>At the same time, some farmers are cautious. They see that as the markets for artisanal breads become more popular, there is also a new industry out there, eager to jump on the opportunity to make money with a new product. While these new products may be marketed as using ‘traditional’ or so-called ‘heritage’ varieties, they often in fact come from a cross of old varieties with new, and are grown on a large scale with chemical inputs. In order for peasant seeds to thrive, they must do so as part of a society that really embraces non-industrial production and consumption, resisting those who market the seeds as their newest commodity. In the UK, as everywhere else, the struggle for peasant seeds is inseparable from the struggle for peasant agriculture. <br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Farmers use loopholes to force a law change for seeds, United Kingdom</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/united-kingdom">United Kingdom</a></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture and Livestock Management)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Biopiracy and bio-prospection</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/fruits-and-vegetables'>Fruits and Vegetables</a><br /><a href='/commodity/corn-maize'>Corn/Maize</a><br /><a href='/commodity/wheat'>Wheat</a><br />Seeds</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Rural</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>UNKNOWN</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>UNKNOWN</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Farmers<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)<br /> Public campaigns</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Potential: </strong>Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Potential: </strong>Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Under negotiation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>Not Sure</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>The final outcome of the seed laws is not yet clear.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Regulations on farm saved seeds in the UK<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Plant Varieties Act 1997, United Kingdom<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Farming monthly article (17/10/2014) on farmer's protest against industrial and corporate agriculture<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Documents</td><td><table><tr><td><p><strong>UK farmers play football on an unleveled playing field to protest on world food day</strong> Source:<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>EJOLT Team</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>06/03/2015</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>