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Prince Charles shrugs off farm campaign "ridicule"

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britain’s Prince Charles says his long-running campaign to protect rare plants and livestock has been vindicated, despite a “chorus of ridicule.”

Charles, an environmental campaigner who owns an organic farm, said it was no surprise that there had been a shift back towards protecting heritage livestock and crops.

He blamed “crazy” European Union laws for a sharp fall in the number and variety of plant seeds on sale and said they risked leading to a rise in plant diseases.

“Hundreds of varieties have been lost,” he said in extracts of a BBC radio interview released on Wednesday. “...wonderful things that our forefathers took enormous trouble to develop, which in many cases are resistant to all sorts of prevalent diseases.

“Which is why I’ve been going on for all these years -- to a chorus of ridicule -- about the importance of protecting and preserving rare native breeds of cattle, sheep, pig and chicken.

“And sure enough, now, surprise surprise, they’re beginning to come back. But the craziness of what we’ve done to this world -- lunacy.”

Charles has often been mocked in the tabloid press for his views. When he revealed in the 1980s that he liked talking to his plants, the Sun published a picture of him on his own with the caption: “A loon with his thoughts.”

Britain says the EU legislation on which seeds can be sold was introduced to protect consumers, but has unintentionally made it harder to grow older varieties.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it had called for a fundamental review of the EU laws.

Charles has spoken of creating an “archive of rare and endangered fruit, vegetables, trees and plants” at his Highgrove estate to support biodiversity.

“What could be crazier than...having the kind of EU legislation which made it impossible to sell the seeds of many of these wonderful old varieties that people have developed over thousands of years?” Charles said.