Save Seed Sharing Campaign


To protect people’s right to share seeds with each other by changing policies that restrict interpersonal seed sharing and threaten the existence of seed libraries.  


Current Situation:

Seeds, in many ways, can be thought of as the foundation of modern civilization. Since the dawn of agriculture, more than 10,000 years ago, humans have domesticated, bred, and selected plant varieties that provide us with nourishment needed to survive. One of the few unbroken traditions that we share with our ancestors is the saving and sharing of seeds.

In the last century, however, the tradition of sharing seeds has been largely replaced as the dominant form of exchange by the buying and selling of seeds in the marketplace. As a result, three companies now control more than 50% of the commercial seed market. The consolidation of the seed industry has also led to a sharp loss in seed diversity around the globe. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that we have lost 75% of the world’s plant genetic biodiversity in the last century and that currently, nearly 75% of our food comes from just twelve plant varieties and five animal species. Studies show that seed genetic diversity is a key element of ensuring that our agricultural systems are resilient in the face of a number of environmental threats.

In recent years, communities across the country have found a new home for continuing the age old tradition of seed saving and sharing - seed libraries. Over 400 seed libraries exist in the United States, with many more in countries around the world. Seed libraries offer people free access to seeds and promote genetic diversity and local adaptation to increase the resilience of the local food system. Unfortunately, government agencies have begun broadly interpreting laws that regulate commercial seed sales to include seed libraries, requiring expensive, burdensome, and unnecessary compliance measures that threaten seed libraries’ ability to exist.

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) believes that state agencies are misapplying these seed laws and will advocate for policy changes that protect seed libraries’ right to freely share seeds.  

Strategies and Goals:

SELC intends to work collaboratively with a group of individual and organizational partners to achieve the following goals:

  • Educate stakeholders about how seed laws apply to seed sharing through seed libraries.

  • Build public awareness and grassroots support for seed libraries.

  • Empower local stakeholders to engage in policy advocacy to support seed sharing.

  • Remove legal barriers to seed sharing through seed libraries.

  • Support seed libraries that face regulation under seed laws.


The following list includes the various actions that SELC will take to achieve the campaign’s goals:

  • Research and publish analysis of 50 state seed laws

  • Create an online petition campaign directed to state agriculture departments to raise awareness and support for changing seed laws as they apply to seed libraries.

  • Publish articles and engage with the media on issues related to seed sharing.

  • Organize state coalitions of the seed advocates to work on policy changes to support seed libraries.

  • Create policy recommendations, including sample legislation, for changing seed laws to create clear legal space for seed libraries and seed sharing.

  • Create legal resources and offer legal advice to seed libraries who face regulation under state seed laws.

  • Offer educational materials on how seed laws apply to seed sharing.

  • Attend meetings with regulators to negotiate alternatives to regulating seed libraries under seed laws.



Thanks to our Partners and Collaborators: