State: Library seed exchange violates law - abc27 WHTM

State: Library seed exchange violates law

State: Library seed exchange violates law

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 A woman holding her coo'ing infant child while perusing for heirloom seeds provides all the symbolism this story needs.

"This started with an idea form the Cumberland County commission for women," said Sue Erdman, Director at the Joseph T. Simpson library, "They were interested in partnering with a local library to start a Seed Library."

A Seed Library. Sound harmless enough, right? The Commonwealth thinks not.

In May our Chuck Rhodes visited the Mechanicsburg library. He learned that the program worked by allowing residents to "borrow" seeds from the library as they would a book and when the plant would produce seeds of its own the seeds would be brought back to the library.

The state must have been paying attention to his story because this month the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture put their fist down on the library seed exchange - citing the Seed Act of 2004.

"It has to do with the infringement of seed patents, spread of invasive plants and disease and cross pollination," said Erdman.

Regardless of any personal beliefs, Cumberland County Chief Clerk Larry Thomas says it's the county's job to enforce the law.

"I think there are legitimate issues about introducing plant varieties into the local environment for a number of reasons, one being the whole Agri-Terrorism business.

Wait. What?

Agri-terrorism has been a flashy word tossed around in the discussion of the Seed Act. It would mean opening up seed distribution to those who might want to contaminate the batch. But Thomas says the less flashy, and more legitimate reason is simply quality control.

The library will not close down their seed program. Instead, they will make one important change. Library-goers will be able to swap pre-packaged seeds using the collection inside the library.

They will not be allowed to return home-grown seeds to the library.

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