Library's seed sharing system threatened by Big Ag regulations


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Looks like the library needs to be creative here. why not have everyone that uses the library return numbers on germination and make them the official seed testing squad?


This is one of the many many situations in today’s overregulated world that calls for a massive civil disobedience.


Library seeds or “research seeds”? “Research seeds” are like “research chemicals”. It’s all for research.


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Completely on topic. Big business has bespoke laws and government contracts dictated to perfectly match their products and services to the exclusion of others. In this story we are talking about strangling that subversive nano-reproducing food production which if left to grow wild tended by the serfs sould seriously undermine the very profitable agro corporations which show up on capitol hill dressed in straw hats, dusty overalls, and checkbooks ready to write campaign donations demanding subsidies for hard pressed American farmers which ratio to about 100,000:1 to the campaign contribution.
Telecom, entertainment, pharma, military, and finance run similar ultra high payoff campaign cash for subsidy or control schemes.


And that’s important why we should not just roll over and obey. Let the lawyer types harass the lawmakers, let the techie types to come up with ways to subvert the powers-that-be schemes and make them as unenforceable as possible, let the social types establish the online and offline networks of people who share this mindset.

And that has to be done without too few leaders, in decentralized fashion; leaders are subject to various forms of pressure, whether corruption, cooption, imprisonment and even killing. Local leaders are important but they have to be too numerous and too replaceable to make their removal to matter much.

Because if they want war, they should get the low-profile asymmetrical kind they are not prepared for. The kind where being a guerrilla is something very normal in the target population. Where taking down one will breed two more out of spite.

Ever tried to get rid of ants?


I wonder if Duluth libraries can respond to this threat by having non-library employees maintain the seed sharing system. Then they could say that technically it’s not the library’s responsibility, and that the seed sharing is like a community book club. The library provides the space, but the individuals are responsible. Is the Minnesota government really going to want to go after individual growers? (Yeah, I realize they just might be stupid enough to do so.)

Tangentially related here’s my favorite library sign:


War? Holy hell, you’ve gone from library seed-sharing to Red Dawn.

What I’m wondering is why officials don’t simply look the other way. They certainly have the ability - and this is the public library we’re talking about. They’re really not in competition with Monsanto.

In fact, why doesn’t Big Ag step in and offer to subsidize the testing 100%? It costs them next to nothing, since they already have the people and facilities, and then they get to make a commercial about how they’re giving back to the community.


The same rules apply. The weapons and tactics details differ.

Because they have to Show That They Are Doing Some Work to some middle manager?

The number of different variants adds up pretty quickly. A more important problem is that there is just not enough seeds in the individual little batches that would make the results statistically meaningful - and what sense does the testing make when after the test there is nothing left to actually grow.

A possibility is to declare the seeds as untested, or to declare the end-users to do the testing as service for themselves (or, to provide germination testing for the donors of the seeds - then it is neither donation for free nor sale).

They are big enough to not have to care anymore.

Good idea. Possibly even make the coordinating person work remotely, from another state or even another country; make someone responsible and at the same time outside of the reach of the wannabe authorities.

There should be a little sign behind it, “a sign was here” - people are likely to not notice that something just vanished.


I found this overview from the Duluth Seed Library to be informative -

I live in Duluth, it will be interesting to see how this plays out and if there will be concessions for local seed sharing programs. Under the current seed law, Johnny Appleseed would be a violator, punishment unknown.


#We don’t care; we don’t have to care; we’re too big to fail!

Or something like that…


This law had a certain fertilizer smell to it, so I figured that I should check a major source of such bullshit… Pre-emption of Local Agriculture Laws Act - ALEC - American Legislative Exchange Council


Is there any corresponding Minnesota law regulating the “lending” of plants? When a person asks to be lent a plant, a library worker plants one of the seeds in a small pot of soil and gives that pot (with the new plant) to the person that requested it. The person who receives the plant returns the pot once they’ve transferred the plant and gives a piece of fruit, a vegetable, or a flower (from which the library can gather seeds) to the library at the end of the year.

If necessary the library could present it as a fundraising opportunity and require people that request plants to pay a modest (enough to pay for the soil) fee.


Big Agribusiness has forced many farmers to stop re-using their own seeds (and has forced businesses that did seed-cleaning) out of business. I mean farmers have been doing this for thousands of years. Now Monsanto owns the (round up ready) seeds that blow in from neighbouring farms, and do an audit on your land by spraying it with round up (from the air). It’s an outrage.


It sounds like the agency just needs to amend its rule to exempt small batches of seeds and giveaway or lending programs. Would that be too simple?

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If I could triple like your comment I would. Let’s all reread Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl and Windup Stories (.pdf) and pretend that they are actually about the future not the present.

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I’m thinking they should just put sign over the seed collection “The Duluth library does not recommend sharing seeds that don’t comply with the government’s testing rules. Do not take these seeds (with the “not” in teeny tiny type). Do not bring back your own seeds for others to use (again, tiny “not”).” and a winking face emoticon.


How is it, exactly, that seed sale laws cover giving seeds out for free?

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Most likely some creative or errorneous lawyer wording.

There should be some restricted-syntax machine-parseable sub-language of English for writing laws and regulations. So when one is written, it can be run through the parser, and if it passes the syntax checks, it can then be checked against other laws/regulations and pseudo-laws (things written in the same language but specifying some general principles that should not be affected) and see where it collides and what it supersedes.