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Author Topic: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements  (Read 100054 times)

Maggi Young

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #60 on: December 03, 2013, 08:26:43 PM »
Part of a reply received from Brian Simpson by a member who has taken the time and trouble to write to  MEPS on this matter:

"The Plant Reproductive Material Regulation that you are concerned about was published by the Commission in May of this year and we are at this moment taking a very critical look at it.

The first seed laws were introduced to protect farmers from unscrupulous seed merchants selling either cheaper seed or even dust and sand. Therefore the main objective of the legislation on plant propagating material is to ensure a broad and informed choice, so that the user gets the necessary information on the identity of the material and that the health and quality of the material is ensured.


The marketing of seeds and plant propagating material legislation is currently composed of 12 basic Directives and approximately 90 other legal acts, dating back to the 1960's. The Directives have been developed at different times and with different approaches so that understanding the requirements in their entirety is not simple, neither for competent authorities who have to implement the legislation nor for plant growers that have to comply with them. The Commission proposed therefore to replace the existing Directives with one single Regulation with an aim to simplify, update and modernise the current rules.

Both the current and proposed legislation provide a basic level of consumer protection for the quality and identity of reproductive material of plant species of minor or no importance for food production. For ornamental plant reproductive material sold under a variety name, the current legislation requires the variety to be at least ‘commonly known’ or ‘on a suppliers list with its detailed description’. The Commission’s new proposal removes this possibility and requires plants to have 'an officially recognised description', obliging farmers to include more technical information on their plant propagating material. Our concern is that the more detailed description would increase costs for growers, as providing more specific information would require an experienced person with access to plant material of that variety.

We welcome the Commission's attempt to simplify the current rules and reduce red tape. We do not however believe this change for ornamental plant reproductive material could bring any benefit. We are worried it could impose a financial burden on plant cultivars. Plant breeders who sell their varieties only in modest numbers might not be able to afford it anymore and would be deleted from the catalogues. This could, as you mentioned in your email, reduce the number of ornamental plants on the market leading to less consumer choice and the loss of biodiversity.

We are very grateful for the inspiring work plant conservation organisations, such as the Plant Heritage, are doing. It is essential for the preservation of biodiversity and reintroduction of plants which would have otherwise been lost. We agree with you that the Plant Heritage, encompassing many commercial operators, is clearly a plant genetic resources network and it needs to be recognised as such.

Initial consideration of the proposed text is done for the Parliament through the Agriculture Committee. The Committee decided on a rapporteur who is responsible, on behalf of the Committee, for drafting a report on the Regulation. The report has just been published and Members of the Agriculture Committee can submit amendments by 4th December. As the European Parliamentary Labour Party spokesperson on agriculture, I am carefully analysing the proposed changes, discussing how to best tackle different issues raised. I will table amendments to reverse the change for ornamental plant reproductive material, since there is no evidence of consumer dissatisfaction in the ornamentals market and no evidence to support the need for more regulation. Moreover, I intend to clarify that plant conservation organisations do not need to be statutory in order to be treated as a plant genetic resources networks."



 
« Last Edit: December 03, 2013, 08:28:42 PM by Maggi Young »
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Maggi Young

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #61 on: December 03, 2013, 08:31:50 PM »
Note to concerned members:

While there is some recognition of the merits of  the protest against these proposals, it is important that those of us likely to be affected by them are, as the latest RHS comments suggested,  diligent in contacting  MEPs to show the depth and breadth of opposition to the threats to the European proposals for ornamental plants- clearly the views of concerned individuals are worth submitting to the legislators.
  - the list of people to contact was given earlier from the Plant Heritage  pages :
pilar.ayuso@europarl.europa.eu, martina.anderson@europarl.europa.eu, martin.callanan@europarl.europa.eu, chris@chrisdaviesmep.org.uk, jill.evans@europarl.europa.eu, nick.griffin@europarl.europa.eu, linda.mcavan@europarl.europa.eu, paul.nuttall@europarl.europa.eu, glenis.willmott@europarl.europa.eu, marina.yannakoudakis@europarl.europa.eu, godfrey.bloom@europarl.europa.eu, vicky.ford@europarl.europa.eu, jacqueline.foster@europarl.europa.eu, julie.girling@europarl.europa.eu, james.nicholson@europarl.europa.eu, struan.stevenson@europarl.europa.eu, rebecca.taylor@europarl.europa.eu, sergio.silvestris@europarl.europa.eu, johnstuart.agnew@europarl.europa.eu, diane.dodds@europarl.europa.eu, julie.girling@europarl.europa.eu, george.lyon@europarl.europa.eu, james.nicholson@europarl.europa.eu, alyn.smith@europarl.europa.eu, richard.ashworth@europarl.europa.eu, john.bufton@europarl.europa.eu, jill.evans@europarl.europa.eu, anthea.mcintyre@europarl.europa.eu, brian.simpson@europarl.europa.eu,

 
Re: Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL On the production and making available on the market of plant reproductive material (plant reproductive material law)
/* COM/2013/0262 final - 2013/0137 (COD) */



Am  amended template of  Plant Heritage's suggested letter is :

Dear Member
 
I am writing as a member of the Scottish Rock Gardening Club, a charitable organisation that has for the last 80 years worked to conserve the biodiversity of plants in cultivation in the UK.
 
As you are aware the European Commission is looking to combine 12 existing EU directives on the production and marketing of plant reproductive material (which includes everything from seeds to young plants) into a single simpler regulation: The Commission proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the production and making available on the market of plant reproductive material (plant reproductive material law) (COM(2013) 262 final).
 
It has been stated that there is no intention to introduce tighter rules for ornamentals. However, industry representatives have identified that the worst-case scenario for the current proposed regulation could prove devastating for nurseries and growers. A new requirement that any plant marketed as a cultivar or variety needs to have an ‘officially recognised description’ has been proposed and the concern is that the vast costs of developing, maintaining and monitoring these officially recognised descriptions for the estimated 75,000+ ornamental plant varieties currently on sale in the UK would prove impossible to meet. The Royal Horticultural Society Plant Finder lists over around 52,000 plant cultivars marketed solely in the UK; of these around 2,000 cultivars already have an official description that conforms to the requirements. The RHS Plant Finder does not include non-terrestrial orchids, cacti or annual and seed cultivars.  There are, at a conservative estimate, more than 75,000 ornamental plant taxa for sale in the UK. The result of imposing this requirement for an officially recognised description would potentially be a massive reduction in the number of cultivars grown for sale in the UK.
 
Many of the 12 existing directives covering the marketing of seed and propagating material contain listed genera and species to which more rigorous requirements apply. These listed genera and species, are carried across into Annex 1 of the current Commission proposal. There is no indication that Annex 1 taxa will be considered solely under the use under which they were originally listed (for example Castanea as a forest tree, rather than an ornamental or a food plant), so it appears possible that the more rigorous application will be followed for all uses.
 
 The current proposal makes the rules with respect to ornamental plant material significantly more onerous than the previous directive, as it removes the options to market varieties that are 'commonly known', or entered with a detailed description on a supplier list (catalogue). Instead, the minimum requirement under the proposed regulation would be to list an officially recognised description onto a public or private list.  This is neither proportionate, nor sustainable for an industry which is already under great financial pressure. It is likely to result in a dramatic cut in the number of cultivars available to gardeners, and thus create a loss of biodiversity. Precisely what the UK has agreed to prevent under the Aichi Biodiversity Targets: (http://www.cbd.int/sp/targets/).
 
In addition to concerns about the wider horticultural industry as noted above, relating more narrowly to cultivated plant conservation, we have the following worries: It is stated in the proposals that the regulations do not apply to ‘material intended to be or maintained in gene banks organisations and networks of ex-situ and in-situ or on-farm conservation of genetic resources’. However it appears that ‘professional operators’ (defined as ‘any natural or legal person carrying out as a profession at least one of the following activities with regard to the plant reproductive material a) producing, b) breeding, c) maintaining, d) providing services, e) preserving, including storing, f) making available on the market) are all subject to the legislation.
It seems from our perspective that an assumption has been made that the only bodies that carry out conservation work are organisations like botanic gardens or networks developed purely for that purpose.

An organisation like the Scottish Rock Gardening Club which has worldwide membership of amateur and professional gardeners  which includes some smaller commercial operators  has not been considered. However it is unlikely that the conservation of cultivars would be possible on such a scale if it were not for some form of commercial involvement; after all in many cases that is why they were created in the first place.
 
We are therefore very concerned that the changes will affect the profitability of horticulture, if not the existence of the ornamental plant trade in its current form; and in addition not protect those in the industry who are conserving plants; thus meaning that conservation of plants becomes the preserve of only botanic gardens and individuals with no commercial involvement, and the concomitant loss of biodiversity that this would cause.
 
Yours sincerely

 your name!
« Last Edit: December 03, 2013, 08:33:26 PM by Maggi Young »
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

Editor: International Rock Gardener e-magazine

johnralphcarpenter

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #62 on: December 03, 2013, 08:44:37 PM »
I've sent the letter to all those named.
Ralph Carpenter near Ashford, Kent, UK. USDA Zone 8 (9 in a good year)

Maggi Young

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #63 on: December 03, 2013, 08:56:22 PM »
Well done, Ralph, the more the merrier.

I would certainly  hope that at the least, anyone with a care for the continuance of  Seed Exchanges like ours would be active on this matter.
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

Editor: International Rock Gardener e-magazine

Hillview croconut

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #64 on: December 03, 2013, 09:00:38 PM »
Hi everyone,

I second everything Maggi has posted. This is probably the SINGLE BIGGEST THREAT facing ornamental horticulture and especially those of us in the niche markets of the special and the rare, as well as hobbyists. Dont think bad things aren't going to happen or you can fly under the radar because once the gate is shut there will be no going back.

PLEASE all EU forumists get involved, defend our interests and WRITE! Push the envelope!

Correct me if I am wrong but I believe formal submissions end today? However forumists CAN STILL email their MEPS right up until the Committee meets early in the New Year. There are simply no social, economic or consumer protection grounds for such a heavy-handed and disproportionate regulatory change. It benefits no-one except bureaucratic and large-scale business interests.

Cheers,  Marcus

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #65 on: December 03, 2013, 09:21:07 PM »
For those who need more convincing check out this article in The Guardian by Graham Spencer on the likely future of UK gardens and horticulture under the proposed regulatory changes.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2013/sep/26/eu-regulation-garden-plants


Maggi Young

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #66 on: December 03, 2013, 09:28:13 PM »
More on this  from Graham Spencer on his website http://www.plantsforeurope.com/2013/11/new-european-commission-regulation-on-plant-reproductive-material/    - and bear in mind this is a man whose company would earn lots of money from the proposed rules- and he is very much against the proposals.
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #67 on: December 03, 2013, 09:58:25 PM »
As predicted, no reply from my MEP. Not even an auto-generated message.
West Oxon where it gets cold!

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #68 on: December 03, 2013, 10:54:28 PM »
Bypass your MEP and write directly to DEFRA, cheers, M

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #69 on: December 04, 2013, 12:00:25 AM »
On second thoughts keep on at your MEP. DEFRA are already onside and working with stakeholders to get these regs amended.  :)

Maggi Young

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #70 on: December 04, 2013, 12:09:47 AM »
On second thoughts keep on at your MEP. DEFRA are already onside and working with stakeholders to get these regs amended.  :)

I agree that the MEPs are the first line of contact, Marcus.
I think it might be  worth contacting  MPs as well - in the hope they give their MEP colleagues an extra  nudge. 
« Last Edit: December 04, 2013, 12:11:38 AM by Maggi Young »
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #71 on: December 04, 2013, 12:24:01 AM »
I've sent the letter to all those named.
Similarly to all Irish MEPs, as a member of The Irish Garden Plant Society.

Update: MEP Mr Seán Kelly has written to Commissioner Borg communicating these concerns.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2013, 05:06:58 PM by ashley »
Ashley Allshire, Cork, Ireland

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #72 on: December 04, 2013, 12:16:34 PM »
On second thoughts keep on at your MEP. DEFRA are already onside and working with stakeholders to get these regs amended.  :)
And in any case if you wrote to DEFRA you would get a reply drafted by a (very junior) official, even if signed by a Minister. I have experience in this area!
Ralph Carpenter near Ashford, Kent, UK. USDA Zone 8 (9 in a good year)

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #73 on: December 06, 2013, 04:45:13 PM »
Maggie, posted amended template of  Plant Heritage's suggested letter to all on the list provided and have received a reply as follows:-

Dear Mr. Ireland, 

Thank you for your email regarding the Plant Reproductive Material Proposal.

On your behalf I have contacted Ms. Julie Girling MEP, who is the Conservative Shadow Rapporteur on this file in the European Parliament. Ms. Girling informs me that she will be working with Mr. Silvestris, and also DEFRA in the run up to the amendment deadline, which has been set for the 4th December. Ms. Girling also informs me that she will bear your comments mind when she comes to amend the draft proposal.

As your London MEP I would be happy to receive further comments and suggestions on this legislative issue as it moves through the European Parliament. I have offices in London and in Brussels, and if there is anything else you would like to bring to my attention please do not hesitate to get in touch. I am here to work on your behalf and would be delighted to hear from you.

Yours sincerely,

Marina Yannakoudakis, Conservative MEP for London 

Maybe some people do care.

Mike
Mike
Humberston
N E Lincolnshire

Maggi Young

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Re: Regulatory threats to seed exchanges and plant movements
« Reply #74 on: December 06, 2013, 06:10:42 PM »
Excellent news - I have received a similar reply.

I am told there is an article on the EU changes but I do not have it- can anyone post a scan for information?
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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