Okay, I swear I’m starting to get paranoid in my old age. I see the sticky, dirty fingers of greed everywhere… I don’t know if that’s the case here with this law in Pennsylvania, but I still wonder what’s really behind it…
Here’s the deal: A library in PA started a seed lending library. People would donate seeds, then ‘check them out’ for free, grow the produce, and return new seeds from their crops at the end of the season.
Sounds like a good thing, right? People get access to free seeds, allow them to grow yummy produce, and all they have to do is return some of the seeds from their crop to the library.
Turns out that it’s illegal in PA. Seriously.
The state ag department shut it down, claiming people would need to purchase a ‘seed license’, have their contact information printed on the labels, keep complete records including samples of the seed for a minimum of two years that would be ‘available for inspection during regular business hours’, and seeds would have to be tested.
Why? Well, basically a whole list of made up reasons that make no sense at all to anyone who’s a gardener. Vague warnings about the dangers of cross pollination and, according to one city commissioner, “agri-terrorism”. Commissioner Barbara Cross brought up the “T” word, speculating that somehow evil terrorists would someone turn their pretty little seed library into a weapon of mass destruction.
According to the ag dept, the intent was not to shut down the program. “This was accepted as a realistic solution”.
Really? Expecting home gardeners to maintain records on every single batch of seed, make them available for ‘inspection’, have them tested by a state agency? Exactly how is this ‘realistic’?
The intent of the ag dept was to shut the program down. Period. And according to the librarian, she was informed that the dept. is going after other seed library programs in the state as well.
Where does the paranoia come in? Well, who has a vested interest in keeping home gardeners from keeping seed, sharing it with others? The big seed companies, of course. If they can make it illegal to share or even save seed (something that’s already happening with patented seeds), you’ll have no choice but to buy seed from them.
Is that what is really happening? Hell, I don’t know. Like I said, sometimes I think I’m getting paranoid in my old age.
Sometimes I think I’m not paranoid enough…
I don’t have the right words.