Cooperative Workshop to Facilitate Agro-biodiversity Friendly Legislation
May 30, Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, Rīga, Latvia
Organized by Latvian Permaculture Association (LPA) in cooperation with Danish Seed Savers (DSS), Lithuanian Institute of Natural Agriculture (INA), and Maadjas Estonia
On May 30, 2019, The Growing Seed Savers initiative hosted a cooperative workshop in Riga, Latvia to facilitate agro-biodiversity friendly seed legislation and research in the Baltic and Nordic countries. The main aims were to share experiences about activities already underway in the Baltic states and Denmark, identify the main legislative and administrative barriers to promoting agrobiodiversity, and analyze opportunities for legislative change and joint projects.
The introductory panel by Elgars Felcis, Sandra Stabinge, and Ilze Mežniece situated the issues of agrobiodiversity and seed-saving within larger environmental issues, presented history of the beginnings of Latvia’s first seed library in Ikšķile, Latvia, and provided an overview of the main goals and activities of the Nordplus Growing Seed Savers project.
In the second panel, Vivi Logan showcased the 30 years of work of the Danish Seed Savers organization to keep old seed varieties alive, Agnese Gailīte described the main activities of the Latvian Genetic Resource center since 1993 in both ex situ and the beginnings of in situ conservation, and new research with crop wild relatives. Annika Michelson outlined the cooperation of the Maadjas organization with the Estonian genebank, as well its own projects to collect information about existing landraces.
In the third panel, Laura Laizāne of the Ministry of Agriculture gave an overview of Latvian and EU legislation related to seeds. Gražvydas Jegelevicius shared his experience in facilitating a recent change in seed legislation in Lithuania, and Vivi Logan explained the process of campaigning to achieve more space for agrobiodiversity within Danish seed legislation. Guntra Aistara pinpointed the main areas of controversy in European seed legislation surrounding agrobiodiversity, and highlighted some of the European networks and initiatives working towards improvement.
The afternoon included three panel discussions about current legislative issues. The first was an evaluation of the implementation of the Latvian legislative category of “vegetable collectors’ variety” that has allowed registered seed collectors to sell seeds of heirloom vegetable varieties, and a discussion of the possibility to expand this possibility also for seeds of other plants. The second was about the possibilities for sowing and marketing of heterogenous materials that was opened up by changes in the EU organic regulations, and a discussion of the importance of this change for Latvian organic farmers. The final roundtable was dedicated to the experience of registering the first conservation varieties in Latvia, and how this path could be made less burdensome.