Seeds have essential genetic information that are absolutely important to support agriculture and are vital for diversity and food sovereignty. Life begins with every cell and seed.
Recently, on 22 April 2021, on Earth Day, SAM and the Consumers Association of Penang hosted a webinar with a panel that discussed everything about seeds including seed health, seed engineering, the proposed bill on Crop or Plant Seed Quality and practical ways to clean and save seeds for further propagation or exchanges.
For the webinar, SAM had prepared a presentation on the proposed bill on the Crop or Plant Seed Quality. You will notice that the presentation has a a mix of both English and Bahasa Malaysia slides meant for the local audience. The contents of the bill in the slides are based on the information that was received by the Malaysian Food Security and Sovereignty Forum (MFSSF) in 2019 from the Ministry of Agriculture.
SAM does not know if the contents of the proposed legislation have changed because since the last meeting in late 2019, MFSSF has not received any updates of the same from the Ministry of Agriculture. Earlier this month, the Ministry of Agriculture announced that they would be going ahead with the tabling of the said bill when Parliament resumes. The MFSSF held a press conference and issued a press statement to oppose the tabling of the proposed Bill as it required full and frank public disclosure and a thorough public consultation process.
Following were some of the demands that MFSSF had raised during the last press conference:
- disclose the proposed Bill in full and call for a public consultation process before it is tabled in Parliament;
- any legislation on seed quality should only apply to commercial companies that sell seeds to ensure that the seeds they sell to consumers are genuine and of good quality; and
- small scale farmers, individuals who are gardening enthusiasts and those who run community gardens should be free to save, share and sell seeds as long as they are not commercially done.
SAM hopes that more and more farmers, individuals especially gardening enthusiasts and civil society organisations would oppose this impending bill as it may severely impact the rights of local small scale farmers and many community gardeners who actively plant, nurture as well as save and exchange seeds.