SB3130 seeks to exempt seed libraries, and other noncommercial, interpersonal seed sharing activities from the burdensome and unnecessary requirements of the Illinois Seed Law. The application of this law to seed sharing activities would be illogical and inappropriate, but the definition of sell includes “giving away,” creating a gray area.
Seed libraries asked for greater certainty after two states began enforcing their seed laws against seed libraries in 2014. Both states have now reversed course and have made it clear that they support seed sharing activities. We want Illinois to show that it supports seed sharing too!
The Seed Law requires testing at least 400 seeds of every lot, which is not a scale that reflects seed sharing activities. The cost of testing is set by regulation at $4 for germination and $5 for noxious weed seed tests--$9, or even $5, is very unreasonable for each of many small donations of seed entering a seed library. Seed sharing should make gardening less expensive, not more.
Seed libraries should also be able to decide the labeling and record-keeping systems that work for them. The record keeping requirements of the Seed Law refer to records and samples pertaining to “shipments.” If applied literally, each individual who contributes seed to a seed library would have to keep records and samples for 2 years and allow the IL Department of Agriculture to inspect them “during customary business hours.” This truly does not sound like it was meant to apply to noncommercial, interpersonal seed sharing.
Regulators fear that unregulated seed swapping will expose us to the possibility of intentional, malicious introductions of noxious weed seed or poison-producing seed. We cannot let such extreme, hypothetical fears jeopardize participation in the positive and enriching activity of seed sharing.