by Sue Kedgley
I have had many queries about the Food Bill, with some suggesting it is a ghastly plot to make seed saving and seed exchange programmes illegal, and even activities such as the Willing Workers on Organic Farm systems (WWOOFing).
These concerns, unfortunately, were never raised during the submission stage of the bill, when they can be examined in depth. Nor were any submissions sent in from any food groups raising these concerns.
The best way to raise concerns such as these about legislation before Parliament is through the submission process, not afterwards when the bill has been through select committee.
Since the hearings on the bill had been completed before anyone raised these concerns, the only way to inquire about them was to write directly to the Minister for Food Safety.
After taking some time to examine the issues, the Minister has confirmed that it was never the intention of the bill to cover seed saving, the barter or selling of food seeds or seedlings, or the provision of food and accommodation in exchange for labour.
She has confirmed that she will be amending the bill to make it explicit that it wont include seed or food exchanges, or related issues.
Here is the letter that Kate Wilkinson sent to me [PDF].