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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Mixed Seed Packets Coming to an end?

Earlier this year the EU, announced a ban on the sale of packets of mixed varieties of vegetable seeds. Until recently, the legislation did not allow mixing of varieties, explained Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) plant varieties and seeds policy team leader Andrew Mitchell.

An EC concession now allows mixtures of the same species, such as radish, brassicas, bean, onion or lettuce varieties. However, it will not allow mixing seeds such as lettuce, lamb's lettuce, spinach, chard, parsley or chervil that mirror bags of mixed salad leaves in supermarkets e.g. brassicas, bean, onion and lettuce varieties. If a mix of species is wanted, each must be in a separate packet within the outer packet which will naturally result in more expensive seeds. This is particularly relevant for salad mixes, where many of us like to grow mixed leaves for a tasty summer salad.

Seed companies are allowed to sell off existing mixed packets, but don't expect many to be available next year. Vegetable Seed Marketing Directives (2011/180/EU) is a significant relaxation of the legislation. But for the UK it means more enforcement. "In the UK we have taken a pragmatic approach to enforcing legislation," said Mitchell. But after the new ruling, FERA issued a guide on seed companies' legal position. Seed firms understood there was a deadline of July to comply, but Mitchell said there was no set date and companies can sell seeds that have already been packed.

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