Seed Libraries and the Law


| 12/8/2016 11:32:00 AM


Tags: seed laws, environmental policy, seed libraries, seed saving, Cindy Conner, Virginia,

Seed Libraries

Seed libraries are community seed sharing programs that can take many forms, but generally the one thing they have in common is to freely distribute seeds. Many hope that the recipients of those seeds will grow them out, save seeds, and donate some back to the program. It all sounds pretty innocent.

However, in 2014, some seed libraries came to the attention of their state departments of agriculture and were told they would have to follow the state seed laws, just as seed companies do. Well, that threw the seed library world into a dither and a lot has happened between then and now. You can read more about that at Homeplace Earth.

Knowing Your Seed Laws

Due to the diligence of seed library activists, the American Association of Seed Control Officials (AASCO) adopted an amendment to the Recommended Uniform State Seed Law (RUSSL) in July 2016 that would exempt seed libraries from state seed laws. This doesn’t automatically mean that now seed libraries are exempt in all the states. Each state sets its own seed laws, but looks to the RUSSL for guidance.

If seed libraries in your state haven’t been approached by your department of agriculture it could be that seed libraries already are excluded by definition in your state seed laws. Or, it could mean that the department of agriculture has other things to worry about. Seed libraries are giving seeds away for free and no money is changing hands, making them distinctly different than seed companies.


greenman
12/9/2016 4:10:06 PM

California has enshrined the right to share seeds into it's seed law. Earlier this year, Governor Brown signed AB1810 into law which makes non-commercial seed saving a legal activity as long as the only benefit to the seed library can be "the return of the progeny of the seeds they lend." With this provision, no money changes hands and there is no contract to return seeds, but if the progeny is returned, there is no "profit" in the government's eyes. California's seed laws are among the most restrictive in the US, although they are enforced at the county level, which has allowed seed libraries to flourish despite the law declaring you could only trade seeds within a 3 mile radius of your home. In California, we are still celebrating for our seed libraries!


greenman
12/9/2016 4:00:02 PM

California has enshrined the right to share seeds into it's seed law. Earlier this year, Governor Brown signed AB1810 into law which makes non-commercial seed saving a legal activity as long as the only benefit to the seed library can be "the return of the progeny of the seeds they lend." With this provision, no money changes hands and there is no contract to return seeds, but if the progeny is returned, there is no "profit" in the government's eyes. California's seed laws are among the most restrictive in the US, although they are enforced at the county level, which has allowed seed libraries to flourish despite the law declaring you could only trade seeds within a 3 mile radius of your home. In California, we are still celebrating for our seed libraries!




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