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The Thin Edge of the Wedge has Arrived in Tasmania

December 12, 2017

The thin edge of the wedge has arrived in Whitemore, Tasmania. Got a letter in the mail the other day from the international seed company, Bejo, asking me not to save my own vegetable seeds – specifically beetroot and silver beet. What the shit? Bejo say that they are growing beetroots for seed somewhere in Tasmania – they say not where.

Apparently these plants produce pollen which can spread by wind for up to 10 km and the seeds that I save in my garden (I currently have one plant being saved for seed) could stuff things up for them by cross pollinating with their plants. It seems that I could possibly, single-handedly with my one plant, destroy an industry worth millions.  Well best of luck with that one. I am currently trying to word a letter that tells Bejo to basically go and get stuffed.

I don’t know much about Bejo but they seem to have a whiff of Monsanto about them.  Apparently Bejo are part of the Dutch company Bejo Zaden. There also seems to be some information that their head office is actually in USA so it is hard to tell. They are a private company and they don’t seem to list their directors or who actually owns the operation (or if they do I can’t find it).  They claim to be the third biggest vegetable seed company in the world and are active in 30 different countries. According to our ABC rural news department they are moving into Tasmania in a big way because of climate change.

They ask “that you please cut off, at ground level, any plants which are presently flowering in your garden”.  Ah, well actually, no, I don’t intend to. They didn’t offer to supply me with free vegetable seed by way of compensation and I would also greatly appreciate it they stopped spraying their crops with insecticides that could adversely affect my bees. We were never consulted on this, just being requested to fall into line for the sake of the profits of an extraordinarily wealthy multi-national company – I don’t think so.

It is actually a bit hard to tell if Bejo are goodies or baddies because they seem to employ some extraordinarily capable spin doctors – as does Monsanto. They continually throw in impressive (but meaningless) motherhood statements like “we stay close to nature” and “exploring nature never stops”. They also seem to be using the power of association by trying to ride on the back of the organic movement by producing some organic seeds. They don’t say how much.

So far I have only come up with one line for my letter of reply, “you are possibly a villain masquerading as one of the good guys”. I may substitute bully for villain – haven’t decided yet. It’s a start.

Steven French

Steven’s photographs have been published in books and magazines throughout the world. In recent years he has had several solo exhibitions in Tasmanian and been part of group exhibitions on the mainland including having his work hung at the prestigious Menzies Gallery. Steven is also an award winning writer who has had stories and articles published worldwide and his book, Hand Made in Tasmania, was on the state’s best-seller list for several weeks.  Steven is also a former Editor of Tasmanian Life Magazine.

Tags: building resilient food systems, seed-saving