In Croatia a new Seed Act has raised concerns amongst farmers and environmentalists. Many have warned that it will affect not only biodiversity but also the survival of small family farms.
According to the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture, the main goal of the new Seed Act is to “regulate the production, placing on the market and import of agricultural reproductive material, determine the competence of individual bodies in business, inspection, as well as other issues relevant to the implementation of a single system of agricultural seed and nursery”.
However, environmentalist strongly disagree. They find section 16 of the Bill to be particularly problematic, as it outlaws the use of “unregistered” and autochthonous seeds and bans seed saving. If passed in the current form, the Act will have deeply damaging consequences for biodiversty and farmers across Croatia and beyond. Farmers and their communities have used seed saving for thousands of years. In doing so, they have been able to cultivate a large number of local varieties, which are better adaptable to different environmental conditions and changes, such as water shortages, strong winds, nutrient-poor soils, etc.
The cultivation of local varieties, which have a high genetic diversity, is extremely important as they have the capacity to better resist and adapt to environmental stresses and changes. This is especially important in the context of climate change. Farmers, especially small-scale and resource-poor farmers, need access to these varieties, which are adapted to the local environment, as they can provide emergency seed supplies in times of crisis, making them less dependent on formal seed systems.
If passed New Act on seeds, threatens to violate these practices with far-reaching consequences. A detailed analysis of the Act has been published in Croatian by the Association of Croatian Organic Farmers. The Croatian association Biovrt produced the infographic presented below.