France
06/04/2018

Forbidden Market - 7 months after launch

Did you know that the agricultural seeds market is covered by European legislation, with an official seeds catalogue? Until now, this legislation banned no fewer than two million varieties of France-grown seeds. Ninety per cent of the planet’s cultivable varieties have already died out in the 20th century (source: FAO). 

The result is less varied diets and more limited biodiversity.

Last September, Carrefour joined producers in their fight to make fruit and vegetables grown from farmers' seeds available to consumers and called on the public authorities to get the law changed. This approach was driven by Carrefour’s desire to promote high-quality food and biodiversity. It marked the starting point for the “forbidden market” campaign. 

This campaign was based on an extensive programme of action: 

The marketing of a range of fruit and vegetables grown from farmers' seeds and... banned as a result! Forty or so stores in the Paris region and Brittany began selling varieties of fruit and vegetables that had never previously been marketed in supermarkets and hypermarkets, including Armorican pink onions, Camus artichokes from Léon, Glas Ruz artichokes, half-length Cléder shallots, Angélique pumpkins, Kouign Amann butternut squash, Kanevedenn tomatoes, Trégor white beans, Brittany tangy rhubarb and Armorican black radishes. 

Support to producers: Carrefour signed long-term agreements with producers with the aim of developing a sustainable line of farmers’ varieties. The Carrefour Foundation also contributed to the campaign by setting up a Farmers' Seeds Company within the framework of a Biodiversity Fund support initiative that it has recently created worth €1 million. 

A petition calling for changes to the law 

After seven months, what progress has been made? 

The public was made aware of the situation and asked to support the campaign, and their response was extremely positive: the online petition at Change.org was a success, gathering 82,000 signatures. It was sent to Jean-Claude Juncker at the European Commission, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, and two French ministers, Nicolas Hulot and Stéphane Travers.

Changes are now being made to European legislation!  After the European Parliament approved the unrestricted marketing of farmers’ seeds in April, organic farmers’ seeds will no longer need to be included in official catalogues, with sales authorized for organic farmers from January 2021. This advance is likely to be signed off by EU ministers when they meet on 22 May - a simple formality, according to observers.

New varieties are now sold in our stores: it’s a source of pleasure for our customers and of enormous pride for us. 

Why is this so important? 

These are seeds that farmers select themselves and then cultivate from one year to the next. As real experts, they are able to exploit the full potential of a seed grown in different climate and soil conditions. The resulting fruit and vegetables are all different out in the field. This practice is essential for maintaining the planet's biodiversity.

 

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