Seed sharing in California took a major step forward on Friday when Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Seed Exchange Democracy Act, an amendment to the California Seed Law. It’s the latest victory in a global movement to support and protect seed sharing and saving.
AB 1810, which was introduced by Assemblymember Marc Levine, exempts non-commercial seed sharing activities from industrial labeling, testing, and permitting requirements. This means that local seed libraries and seed sharing activities aren’t held to the same cost-prohibitive testing required of big, commercial seed enterprises. The law allows seed sharing and saving to continue on a local level, which supports food security, urban agriculture, climate resilience, healthy eating, and a stronger local seed systems.
Seed sharing gained mainstream attention in 2014 when agriculture officials in Pennsylvania cracked down on the Joseph T. Simpson public library’s seed library. The event served as a catalyst for the seed sharing movement. Last year, Shareable partnered with the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), Richmond Grows, Seed Matters, SeedSavers Exchange and several other organizations in the Save Seed Sharing campaign designed to:
- Educate stakeholders about how seed laws apply to seed sharing through seed libraries
- Build public awareness and grassroots support for seed libraries
- Empower local stakeholders to engage in policy advocacy to support seed sharing
- Remove legal barriers to seed sharing through seed libraries
- Support seed libraries that face regulation under seed law
Since that time, bills that exempt non-commercial seed sharing from commercial seed laws were signed into lawin Minnesota, Illinois and Nebraska, the Association of American Seed Control Officials (AASCO) created a working group to create a compromise recommendation, and now California has a new seed sharing law.