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Brighton's Seedy Sunday could become victim of new EU legislation
A popular Brighton gardening event could be culled - because of a change in European legislation.
Seedy Sunday is the UK's biggest and longest-running community seed swap event with about 3,000 green-fingered enthusiasts cultivating contacts.
But this year's event - the 13th since it was founded - could be very unlucky if legislators at the European Union get their way.
Organisers warn a move by Brussels to standardise the production and marketing of seeds will mean the fruitful swapping of home-grown seeds could be coming to an end.
Steve Bustin, chairman of Seedy Sunday, said: “My initial reaction was shock, particularly as the EU legislation seems unnecessary and contrary to environmental policies.
“It is actually coming from big companies that do not want to see small communities and individuals undermine profits.
“Not only does Seedy Sunday give people the chance to find new and rare seeds but it's about sharing tips and advice.
“That sort of rapport you never get from major seed companies.”
The issue focuses on a report by Sergio Silvestris, the EU's Chief Rapporteur for Agriculture, which aims to standardise what seeds are available to growers.
Garlich von Essen, Secretary General of European Seed Association, said: “When it comes to seeds, a legal framework that supports identity, performance, quality and health is essential, for breeders and farmers alike”.
But critics claim it will repeal many of the exemptions for amateur growers and small producers.
They add it will mean that many local and rare varieties, such as those unique to Sussex, could be lost. A similar bill was rejected last year.
Mr Bustin said this year's event, which will take place on February 2 from 10.30am to 4.30am in Brighton's Corn Exchange, will not be affected.
However, he warned if the law is passed in its current form in the next 12 months, then Seedy Sunday will be culled.
Speaking generally about the event, Mr Bustin said: “It is by far the biggest event of its type in the UK.
“Gardening experts who come comment on how young everyone is and that makes for a very vibrant environment.”
As well as allowing people to swap unwanted seeds, last year saw BBC Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time record an episode of its programme from the event.
Entry is £3 (£2 concessions) while children under-16 are allowed in for free.
For more details, visit www.seedysunday.org.
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