CA Seed Exchange Democracy Act

What is the CA Seed Exchange Democracy Act?

  • The CA Seed Exchange Democracy Act (AB 1810, Levine) will update California's state seed law so that seed libraries and other forms of noncommercial seed sharing are given the clear legal space to operate. Click here to read the most updated version of the bill language.
  • The bill amends the California Seed Law to ensure that seed libraries, and other forms of noncommercial seed sharing activities, are not subject to the same labeling, testing, and permitting requirements that apply to large-scale commercial seed enterprises. For more background on this issue, see our Save Seed Sharing page.

6 Reasons why the Sustainable Economies Law Center is Saving Seed Sharing!

  1. Seeds are a commons, not commodities. We've been inspired by the notion of communal stewardship of our resources, practiced by indigenous communities around the world, as a framework for how we can operate a sustainable and equitable economy. Perhaps the oldest of these common resources are seeds - being saved and shared among people for the better part of 10,000 years. Recently, western notions of private property have been extended to commodify seeds into pieces of personal or intellectual property. Meanwhile, there has been a steep decline in plant genetic diversity around the world. 
  2. Resilient, local food economies are dynamic. With wealth inequality at its highest ever since the Great Depression, we know that dollars are just not getting around to all of us like they should. Who knows how long it will take for us to all have enough dollars to provide for ourselves? Seed sharing allows us to branch out into the wonderful world of the gift economy as a real, practical solution to this problem while building personal connections within our communities around one thing we all need to get by - food.
  3. Seed savers are just the nicest people. I mean, have you met a seed saver recently?
  4. More local seeds = more local food. Nearly 10% of Californians struggle with food insecurity, meaning that at some point they do not know where their next meal will come from. At the same time, Californians only consume about 10% of their food from local sources, so there is a huge opportunity to increase local food production for local communities, particularly communities poorly served by our current global food system.
  5. Seed saving is one of the oldest human traditions. The act of saving seeds and sharing them is what birthed agriculture thousands of years ago. Only in the last century has seed saving lost its ubiquity (though it remains the main form of exchange in many communities around the world). Seed saving and sharing is a human right.
  6. Consolidation in the seed industry is scary. Seriously, 3 companies control more than 55% of the global seed market. Not only does this present an extremely economically oppressive situation, but the impact of this control on our choices of what foods are even available for us to eat places us at the mercy of a just a handful of board rooms. More and more seed companies are moving away from diversity in favor of single-trait, commodity seeds to serve industrial scale agribusiness.

Who Else is Supporting These Efforts?

  • Lots of people! See and visit our partners by clicking on their logos.

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How Can You Engage as a Grassroots Policymaker?

Policy change is all about team effort, so there are a lot of ways to get involved. First and foremost, if you haven't signed up to receive campaign updates, do that first by clicking here! In order of impact, here are some ways to get involved:

  • Pass a local resolution. Did you know that almost every city has a lobbyist in Sacramento? One way to amplify your impact is by encouraging your city council to pass a resolution in support of seed sharing, similar to this one that the City of Oakland passed last year. The resolution authorizes the city lobbyist to advocate on behalf of the city to support legislation that promotes seed sharing. Boom. Now your city officially supports seed sharing. Click here to download a template resolution.
  • Visit your legislator's office. Each state legislator has district offices located in the district s/he represents. Drop by and talk to staff about the Seed Exchange Democracy Act and why you want your legislator's support on this bill. Putting a face to a name is always helpful.
  • Organize a letter writing party! This may sound old-fashioned, and it is, but a written letter sent to your legislator goes a long way in urging their support of the bill. And what's better than one letter sent to one legislator? 20 letters sent to one legislator! To know where to send your letters, click here to find your representatives' websites where their contact information is located. You can download a template letter of support by clicking here.
  • Make a phone call. At critical times during the legislative session, usually during committee hearings and voting deadlines, calls to specific legislator offices can be influential in persuading someone to vote a certain way. As long as you've signed up to receive campaign updates, we'll send you emails when it's important to make phone calls so you know when and who to call.
  • Spread the word on social media. Since we engage in grassroots advocacy, we don't have the financial resources to hire lobbyists full-time and we definitely do not (and legally cannot) contribute money to anyone's political campaign, so we rely on people power to make our voices heard. Whatever social networking platform you like to use, whether it's Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, or something else, SHARE THIS PAGE on social media so people know about it! #seeddemocracy

You Don't Live in California, No Problem! 

  • Not in California, but still want to get involved? See our Policy Bite on seed sharing legislation to help you craft and introduce a bill in your state!
  • Check out this list of seed libraries around the country and get in touch with one close to you. Building support from the community that will be affected by this kind of law is a great first step towards successful advocacy.

Thanks to our Partners and Collaborators: