I’m pretty much pro EU so when I hear reports that small businesses hate the EU it is over regulated I am sceptical to say the least. “Show me the regulations” I ask but get no reply. Until today, when I stumbled upon an over regulation which directly effects me, as a keen plant grower.:-
“In the EU, there is actually a list of ‘official’ vegetable varieties. And a law governing seed sellers, which states that if a variety isn’t on the official list, then seed companies cannot ‘market’ the seed to anyone. In an immediate sense, this law only affects us, not you – because there are no laws at all governing the buying of seed or what vegetables anyone can grow. Selling unlisted seed? – that’s against the law. Buying unlisted seed? – that’s completely fine! So we should stress that for you it’s perfectly legal to buy any seed you like, plant it, grow it, and do whatever you want with it.
But this system does affect home gardeners in the long run – because it costs money to put/keep varieties on the official list. So it’s only profitable to ‘keep listed’ varieties that sell in huge quantities to farmers, who have very different needs to home growers – a farmer wants their plants to respond to precise chemical inputs, fruit all at once for ‘once-over’ harvesting, and be tough to stand up to transport and packaging. You on the other hand, want tender vegetables produced over a long season, even during variable years.
It’s just not worth listing seed for home gardeners. Hundreds of thousands of old heirloom varieties (the results of about eleven thousand years of plant breeding by our ancestors) have been lost forever, due to this rather poorly drafted EU legislation.
To address this, we have always operated as a club – 1p of your order pays for a years membership, so we are not selling to the ‘public’. But this is no longer enough: As of 2011, the UK is being obliged to enforce the regulations more strictly, with the sweetener that varieties can be added to the National List for a reduced fee if they are labelled as ‘amateur seed’.
To complicate the issue, the legality of the National List system is now being challenged in court, and independently the EU itself is planning to ‘simplify’ the whole thing in 2016. Even worse, the law in different countries is ambiguous as to whether selling seed to home gardeners counts at all!”
Cameron had a big opportunity to actually start meaningful reform of the EU. Very many EU citizens would welcome it. Instead, reform has evaporated in favour of a political fudge.