(1) WRITING TO THE 3 KEY MEPS
There are 3 MEPs directly involved with the law who are really worth writing to:
(be nice to them though, it wasn’t their idea)
|Sergio Silvestris: Rapporteur of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development
(he is chairing the making of the new law)
|George LYON (United Kingdom) – Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe – ALDE|
|Julie GIRLING (United Kingdom) – European Conservatives and Reformists – ECR|
You can send the same email to all three of them. This is probably the key thing to do.
Here is an example – though it is better to put things into your own words.
|Dear Mr Silvestris/ Mr Lyon / Ms Girling
Subject: Proposed new EU Plant Reproductive Material law
I am writing to you because I am worried about the proposed new law regulating the sale of seeds within the European Union.
Home gardeners have very different needs from farmers and larger scale growers. The law as it is currently drafted does not take account of this difference, and will result in far less choice of varieties suitable for gardeners.
I realise there are some exceptions allowed in the law for ‘niche market’ varieties, but these are much too limited.
This law is being described as for ‘consumer protection’ but there are no problems as things stand with home garden seed that we need protecting from. The new law will hugely reduce our choice of plants to grow. This is unreasonable given that it will not benefit us in any way.
It is not appropriate for seeds sold in small packets for individual gardeners to be regulated in the same way as seeds for commercial agriculture, and as a gardener, I do not want to be limited to growing varieties of vegetable developed for a completely different type of growing.
Home gardeners should be able to choose any vegetable variety they want to grow, in a free market, and not be restricted to a list of ‘approved’ varieties. Agriculture in the EU is a major business. Individual citizens’ gardens and allotments are a completely different sector, and don’t need the same degree of regulation.
I would ask you to change the draft law so that home garden seeds and plants are not covered by the new law.
I would be grateful for a reply to this letter
(2) RESPONDING TO THE UK GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION
ABOUT TAKING EU LAWS BACK INTO UK CONTROL
The UK government have just started a consultation asking people what things should be covered by EU laws, and what should be decided at national level.
The consultation about agriculture is happening now. We are asking as many people as possible to respond, and say that garden plants and garden seeds should NOT be covered by EU regulation, but instead controlled by UK laws.
DEFRA have a page of information about the consultation here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/eu/boc-agriculture
And then the actual consultation – the bit to fill in – is here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/eu/boc-agriculture/consultation
What to fill in?
NOTE: You don’t have to answer ALL of the questions on the form – just one is fine.
You could just make one brief point in
Question 5 (in the section ‘EU Competence for Agriculture’):
|We feel that the EU should not have competence for (that is, they shouldn’t make decisions about) Plant Reproductive Material(that is, seeds) intended for gardeners.
Agriculture in the UK (and the rest of the EU) is a major business. Individual citizens’ gardens and allotments are a completely different sector, and don’t require strict EU-level regulation.
You’ll need to put this in your own words, but the point to make to them is that it is not appropriate for UK gardeners to be regulated by the EU as if they were farmers, and that they have very different needs. Garden plants and seeds should not be regulated in the same way as cereals and potatoes grown on hundreds of acres.
Help reading the background material to the consultation:
If you don’t want to read all the way through the DEFRA ‘Call for Evidence’ document, the key part relating to Plant Reproductive Material (= “seeds and cuttings” to most of us) is on page 20, paragraph 49.
Here is what DEFRA say there, explaining the current situation:
|“Marketing of plant reproductive material is regulated by a number of EU directives. These are consumer protection measures which set out the quality and identity requirements which seed and other plant reproductive material must meet before it may be marketed. The objectives include encouraging the breeding and uptake of improved varieties, assuring seed quality for safe, reliable and environmentally efficient food production, and facilitating international trade. The Directives also cover the marketing of ornamental plant material. In recent years simpler requirements have been agreed for conservation varieties and varieties with no intrinsic value for commercial crop production eg varieties intended for gardeners.“|
We have marked the final sentence in bold – These simpler regulations for garden seed are what the new EU Seed Law will abolish. This is what you need to comment on in Question 5 – Seed Regulation for home gardeners needs to be brought back into UK control.
If enough people fill in the survey, it is possible that the Seed Laws will be brought back to UK control!