No Patents on Seeds: some ideas from Europe

We Oregon and Washington farmers just had a great mid-week idea sharing session at Breitenbush Hot Springs outside of Salem Oregon, where we met up with a lot of farmers we had not seen since last year’s Farmer to Farmer Exchange. We enjoyed workshops,

Hard at work, networking and socializing at the spiral tubs.

great food, and most of all, discussions in the hot healing pools and sauna. Especially when it decided to snow five inches on Tuesday afternoon. We met up with our friends at Uprising Seeds, from Bellingham, Washington, and despite the difficulties of rounding up five seed people long enough to snap a photo, I did manage to arrange this.



Getting back to the farm, we were welcomed by 300 flats of happy, freshly germinated lettuce and mustard plants. Next week we will have plenty of thinning and making our first selections, getting rid of plants that do not belong.

Mind the minotaur if you stray from the spiral tubs or yurt.


We have come across a couple exciting and ponder-inducing morsels from Europe in the past few weeks that we would like to share, hopefully they will get the gears rolling in brains far and wide. The first is from Germany, where last week there was a discussion in Parliament on the problems farmers face due to the patenting of plants and animals. An open letter was sent to members of parliament, with the core request being :  “We ask you to call for an urgent re-think of European patent law in biotechnology and plant breeding and to support clear regulations that exclude from patentability plants and animals, genetic material and processes for breeding of plants and animals and food derived thereof.” The co-signers, and there are a lot, cited market concentration in the seed industry due to patents, higher prices to farmers for using patented seeds, and the negative impact to innovation in plant breeding when genetic material is patented. The plea seems to have fallen on sympathetic ears, because the next day the German Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution against patents on plants, animals, and traditional breeding methods. We need to do the same thing, for we are facing the same difficulties listed by the Germans.

Secondly, we recieved a great video from our friends at Real Seeds in the UK. They have been doing some seed cleaning innovation, and have shared the product of their latest attempt to duplicate an expensive piece of equipment, at home:

Keep it up, folks, together we could soon be building more affordable, scale-appropriate seed equipment and ensuring that corporations do not privatize the genetic resources that have been owned by no one, or everyone, since forever.

One thought on “No Patents on Seeds: some ideas from Europe

  1. Fantastic bit of gear. Will it work on Radicchio type seed? I have saved a very cool one which throws a very cool varigated baby leaf a chef wants. I’m struggling to get to seed only – heaps of chaff etc. Any ideas?

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