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Media campaigns to save the “Linda Potato”, Germany


Description

The strict laws regarding what kinds of seeds can be sold have left farmers in Germany with very little choice about what to sow on their farms, as they are limited to only a few industrial and uniform varieties. Sometimes farmers may like a particular variety, but it can quickly disappear when the variety becomes unprofitable to the company who bred it. This is what happened in 2004 when the German seed company Europlant took back ‘Linda,’ a popular variety of potato. The 30 years of the company’s exclusive property claims on ‘Linda’ through a PVP certificate had run out, and with it, the 10-15% licensing fees on the price that they could charge each time the variety was sold as seed. When the Europlant breeders asked that ‘Linda’ be taken off the catalogue, anyone who farmed it commercially would be acting illegally. ‘Linda’ was to disappear from the market, to be replaced by new varieties for which profitable licensing fees could be charged once again.

Yet thanks to farmers’ organised resistance and a good media campaign, within months a strong ‘save the Linda potato’ campaign ensued all over Germany. German consumers who generally know how to identify two types of crops reliably—apples and potatoes—recognised ‘Linda’ as a variety that they liked and supported the farmers.

In the courts, it was settled that ‘Linda’ could remain on the market for two more years. Thereafter, ‘Linda’ did not meet the strict requirements needed to remain on the German catalogue. Yet it is today again available to farmers all over Europe because it was accepted for sale in another European country, this time in England. The ‘Linda’ potato is seen as a success story against the industry. But the incident also made farmers acutely aware of how much they depend on the market and on the whims of the companies who only offer profitable seed varieties on the market.

Another case in Germany ended up with a farmers victory when the highest court ruled that companies could not send “spies” to inquire what kind of seeds farmers were using on their farms in order to collect royalties.

Basic Data

NameMedia campaigns to save the “Linda Potato”, Germany
CountryGermany

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Biopiracy and bio-prospection
Specific CommoditiesSeeds
Fruits and Vegetables

Project Details and Actors

Start Date01/01/2005
End Date28/08/2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesEuroplant Pflanzenzucht GmbH from Germany - seeds, agro-industry
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Union (EU)
Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV) from Switzerland
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersFreundeskreis "Rettet die Linda", comprised by (1):

Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft

Bioland

Demeter

Verbraucherzentrale Hamburg

Slowfood

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Consumers
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures

Outcome

Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Application of existing regulations
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.On 28.08.2009, the Linda potato was legally re-registered for plantation and sale in EU country England. According to EU-law, plants registered in one country also have to be allowed in other countries, for which reason, and upon request of German farmers, Linda was re-registered in Germany the year after.

Sources and Materials

Legislations

The Plant Variety Protection Law, Germany
http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/details.jsp?id=10960

Links

(1) Wikipedia on Linda, the potato
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_%28Kartoffel%29

Campaigner's webpage on the story (german)
http://www.kartoffelvielfalt.de/rettet_linda/

Media Links

Movie "Immer Ärger um Linda - Der Kampf um eine Kartoffel" (german)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2CE9165499C7C95A

Other Documents

Linda potatoes Source: http://www.ruhrnachrichten.de/leben-und-erleben/ratgeber/ernaehrung/Beliebte-Kartoffel-Linda-kommt-zurueck;art356,831484
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/www.ruhrnachrichten.de_1606639_m3w624h416q75v17972_Linda-Kartoffel_24041424.original.large-4-3-800-229-2329-2579-4088.jpg

Meta Information

ContributorEJOLT Team
Last update24/02/2015

Images

 

Linda potatoes

Source: http://www.ruhrnachrichten.de/leben-und-erleben/ratgeber/ernaehrung/Beliebte-Kartoffel-Linda-kommt-zurueck;art356,831484