Carrefour creates "The forbidden market", a fight for food quality and biodiversity
The law currently prohibits the sale of more than 2 million varieties of France-grown seeds, thus preventing members of the general public from enjoying a varied diet. Carrefour is joining producers in their fight to make fruit and vegetables grown from farmers' seeds available to consumers and is calling on the public authorities to get the law which prohibits them from being sold changed, as they are not registered in the official catalogue of authorised seeds. This initiative is in line with the Group's long-standing commitments to food quality and biodiversity.
THE FORBIDDEN MARKET: A RANGE OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES GROWN FROM FARMERS' SEEDS
Starting on 20 September, Carrefour will sell a selection of fruit and vegetables grown from farmers' seeds in around forty of its stores in the Paris and Brittany regions which have never before been sold in supermarkets or hypermarkets.
Around ten species of fruit and vegetables grown using organic farming methods are available, including Armorican pink onions, Camus artichokes from Léon, Glas Ruz artichokes, half-length Cléder shallots, Angélique pumpkins, Kouign Amann butternut squash, Kanevedenn tomatoes, Trégor white beans, Brittany tangy rhubarb and Armorican black radishes. The list of products grown using farmers' seeds will change with the seasons.
A LONG-TERM COMMITMENT TO PRODUCERS
Carrefour's aim is to develop a long-term line of farmers' varieties. It has entered into partnerships with two Brittany producer consortia (KAOL KOZH and APFLBB)* which provide for:
• Contractual agreements over 5 years,
• Commitments to prices and volumes
The Carrefour Foundation will support producers in setting up a Farmers' Seeds Company within the framework of a Biodiversity Fund support initiative that it has recently created worth €1 million. The Farmers' Seeds Company will conduct research into vegetable species with the 450 plant resources that it has collected and will focus on improving seed production techniques and supporting their distribution. It will also keep the general public and producers informed of developments in the sector.
FIGHTING TO HAVE THE LAW CHANGED
With 90% of the planet’s cultivable varieties having already died out in the 20th century (source: FAO) and in order to help preserve the planet's farming and food heritage, as well as safeguarding its biodiversity, Carrefour wants to help revise two key points of the current legislation:
• Simplify the law so that small farmers can sell their freely reproducible seeds via short supply channels,
• Open up the official catalogue to include these farmers' seeds, so that the resulting fruit and vegetables can be sold as widely as possible among all consumers. This will require that the current criteria for registering farmers' seeds in the catalogue be relaxed, as well as payment exemptions implemented for smaller farms.
Carrefour has set up an online petition at carrefour.fr and Change.org https://www.change.org/le_marche_interdit_par_carrefour in a bid to get the public authorities to think again about farmers' seeds and give consumers a platform for showing their support for this initiative and joining the biodiversity movement.
A LONG-STANDING FIGHT THAT IS STILL RELEVANT TO PROMOTE HIGH-QUALITY FOOD AND BIODIVERSITY
Carrefour firmly believes in the importance of high-quality food. For 25 years, the Group has always been one step ahead, anticipating changes in food standards and providing its customers with easily-affordable, high-quality products that are socially responsible and fine-tasting.
In 1992, Carrefour was the first French retailer to include a selection of organic products. In 1999, it did away with GMOs in all of its own-brand products – well before regulations came into force on labelling GMO products in 2003. In 2013, within the framework of its agri-ecology plan, the first French line of chickens reared without antibiotics was launched.
These are seeds that farmers select themselves and then cultivate from one year to the next. As real experts, they are able to exploit the full potential of a seed grown in different climate and soil conditions. The resulting fruit and vegetables are all different out in the field. This practice is essential for maintaining the planet's biodiversity.
* KAOL KOZH is an association set up to increase biodiversity in Brittany. Its remit involves cataloguing and preserving plant varieties that have been adapted and can be adapted to be being farmed in Brittany, raising the general public's awareness of plant products' diversity and serving as a stakeholder in dialogues with national and European authorities about seeds and varieties for organic farming.
*APFLBB is an organisation of producers made up of more than 60 organic produce farmers in Brittany specialised in farming fruit and vegetables. For more than 15 years, the group has been focused on producing products that are 100% organic and is working on creating a line of completely organic products alongside partners with the same values.
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