For those of you who have been following my work for at least the past decade, you will know that in one of the earlier OLIVE FARM books, I wrote about the class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids. I knew very little about what was going on back then, except that word was going around, concern growing, that this class of neuro-active insecticides was having a detrimental effect on honeybees, birds and various other pollinators. The chemical companies supplying these insecticides – neonicotinoids were developed in the 1980s by Shell and then Bayer – described them as ‘low-toxicity’ and not harmful to bees. In fact, the alarming and escalating loss of bees and the damage to birdlife have become causes for serious concern over the past decade. The movement and voices against the use of neonicotinoids has grown more vociferous and active. Until on 29th April of this year, after massive protests from environmentalists, beekeepers, Greenpeace, Avaaz and many other organisations as well as lay folk everywhere, the European Union passed a two year ban against the use of these chemicals. Hooray! But it is just the beginning. We have to keep up the fight against them, keep writing and talking about the problems and pushing the barriers of awareness ever further.
Neonicotinoid imidacloprid is the most widely used insecticide in the world. It was one of the principle components in the sprays we used on our little olive farm to treat the fruits against the olive fruit fly, until I got wise to it. Since, we have stopped all spraying and our farm is entirely organic. Our harvests are smaller but we can use our oil with the certain knowledge that it is natural. It contains nothing harmful to our health or the environment. Aside from that the health of our land has improved dramatically and we have far greater variety of birdlife, butterflies, wildflowers everywhere. It is a joy to be on the land now.
Why am I writing all this now, when the movement seems to be getting heard and making a difference? Because I want to draw your attention to another issue which I consider equally important and perhaps also for the moment as little known today as the neonicotinoid issue was a decade ago.
Here it is: The European Commission is reforming the European Union’s plant and animal health legislation in what they claim is a bid to ‘enhance food safety across the bloc’. However the measures, proposed threaten seed diversity and favor large agrochemical businesses. There is a real danger that the proposed regulations could make it very difficult for organic farmers or agro-ecologists to continue to operate. Basically the legislation that is being prepared, if it goes through, will make it illegal to grow crops and seeds that are not on their approved list. Please consider this. The list they currently hold consists of over fifty percent of seeds, hybrids, grown by the corporate companies, the agro-giants. We will all of us be obliged to register our seeds, pay for the use of those that are approved and be in breach of the law for planting others. The planting of non-approved seeds will become a criminal act.
I have set up a petition to protest against this overhaul of seed regulations and I sincerely hope that you can see how urgently we must oppose this.
The outcome, if not stopped, could be that our foods, both supplied and grown, will be controlled. I said it again: It will be a criminal act to share your seeds with others. Certain varieties of plants, foods, will disappear because they will not be judged profitable.
I request you please to stand behind this petition and to pass it on to everyone you know. It is vital for the future of our agricultural freedom and, I believe, our health.
Here is the petition. Please sign it now and post it everywhere you can.