Seed Sharing Movement Wins Big with New Legislation By Cat Johnson

Since the crackdown on seed libraries by some U.S. states last year, organizers (including Shareable) around the country have been working to protect seed sharing. In both Minnesota and Nebraska, bills that specifically exempt non-commercial seed sharing from commercial seed laws were recently signed into law.

This historic legislation is a big win for the seed sharing movement as it sets a precedent for other states and sends a message to seed regulators that the application of commercial seed laws to non-commercial seed sharing is misguided, and that non-commercial seed sharing should not be held to the same expensive, rigorous testing as commercial seed operations. Even if the seed law is unclear in a particular state, the law may not be enforced in the way it’s been enforced in the past year because this precedent has been set.

In Nebraska, Common Soil Seed Library led the campaign. In Minnesota, a group of organizations including Do it Green! Minnesota, the Duluth Public LibraryGardening MattersHomegrown Minneapolis Food Council, theInstitute for a Sustainable FutureSt. Paul Ramsey County Food and Nutrition Council, and the St. Paul West Side Seed Library worked to get the legislation passed.

The next step for the Save Seed Sharing campaign is to influence this legislation at the national level through a proposed amendment to the Recommended Uniform State Seed Law (RUSSL), a preferred model for state seed regulations. The proposed changes would explicitly exempt non-commercial seed sharing in this model law that states use to craft their own seed law. The Association of American Seed Control Officials (AASCO) will vote on the amendment at their annual meeting in July. SELC will be there to protect non-commercial seed sharing.

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