Effects of Costa Rica’s Seed Law

All commercial seeds in Costa Rica need to be registered and approved by the National Seed Office, and comply with its requirements and procedures. This means legal action and fines for any farmer who sells or exchanges non-approved seed. Any possibility of creating exceptions to this rule will need further regulation, and cannot be taken as read.

Under the promise of raising quality, seeds must comply with rigid standards ensuring uniformity, distinctness, and stability. However, diversity and homogeneity do not mix, and this requirement for homogeneity effectively makes traditional native seed varieties illegal. These are the very seed that are able to adapt to the variety of climates, soils and agricultural practices employed by campesino agriculture.

Traditional seed needs to be registered. This transfers to seed companies the raw material to select new commercial varieties.

The homogenisation of agriculture severely reduces food diversity. This legally restricts which seeds are permitted for use and ignores the wealth of genetic diversity represented in traditional seeds. Loss of seed varieties represents erosion of the genetic pool, reduction in pest and disease resistance, greater use of fertilisers, pesticides and fungicides, and fewer food options available for the population.

Food costs will rise for everyone. Greater agricultural inputs and imposed registration and certification costs inevitably filter down to the consumer.