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Food Safety

Health - Regulatory Committees - Standing Committee on Agricultural, Horticultural and Forestry Seeds and Plants

Short report of the meeting of the Standing Committee on Seeds and Propagating Material for Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry held on 16 and 17 December 1999

Chairman: Mr. Obst (for item 2.3)
Mr. Valvassori (for the other items)

All member States present. The Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) and Norway participated as observers.

1. Possible implementing measures to be taken under Council Directive 98/95/EC

The discussion was focussed on the following items:

  • definition of marketing
  • varieties for which applications for entry in the catalogues have been submitted.

As regards the definition of marketing, the Committee urged the Commission to establish the conditions under which the exemptions foreseen in the Council Directive 98/95/EC (supply of seed to providers of service for the production of certain agricultural raw materials intendended for industrial purposes) will be uniformly implemented throughout the Community. Exchange of views took place on the extension of such a derogation.

As regards the varieties for which applications for entering in the catalogues have been submitted, the Committee agreed to carefully consider the experiences already gained with the existing national systems. It acknowledged the differences in approach, as foreseen by the Council, between seed of agricultural plant species and vegetable seed.

2. Common Catalogues of varieties

2.1 Accelerated inscription into the common catalogue of additional varieties of agricultural plant species (varieties notified between 23 November and 15 December 1999)

The Committee noted a list of 115 varieties eligible for listing in the Common Catalogue of Agricultural Plant Species.

A GMO variety was not included in the list, as the Commission has not yet been informed whether or not the variety in question was already accepted for marketing in accordance with Council Directive 90/220/EEC and, where appropriate, with Regulation (EC) no 258/97 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

As a point of information the Member States were asked if all the varieties subject to accelerated inscription into the Common Catalogue included any GMO variety. The delegations stated that, to the best of their knowledge, they did not.

The Standing Committee noted that, pursuant to Article 15 (4) of Council Directive 70/457/EEC, the delegations of all Member States stated or notified that their respective countries did not intend to lodge any application under the procedure laid down in Article 15 (2) of that Directive, in respect of the 115 varieties which were accepted in the other Member States and for which the communications provided for in Article 10 (1) and (3) of the said Directive were made.

2.2 Working programme of supplements to the last editions of the common catalogues of varietes

(a) Agricultural plants

The preparatory work for the first supplement to the 21 st complete edition of the Common catalogue of varieties of agricultural plant species is in progress. The supplement will cover amendments until 31 January 2000.

From 1 February 2000 on, pursuant to the new Article 15 (1) of Council Directive 70/457/EEC, the varieties notified thereinafter will be included into the Common catalogue without being subject to "accelerated" procedure. The pending varieties (those for which the "accelerated" procedure was not successful in 1998 or in 1999) will also be included.

(b) Vegetable

The Commission services recalled that a draft second supplement to the 21 st complete edition of the Common catalogue of varieties of vegetable species was circulated in the meeting of the Standing Committee which took place on 26 November 1999.

The Committee noted:

  • comments from certain Member States as regards the accuracy of the draft
  • all delegations stated that, to the best of their knowledge, their notifications did not include GMO varieties
  • a schedule in certain Member States according to which some varieties should be accepted in the respective national catalogues before the end of this year
  • the Commission services will initiate beginning January 2000 the procedure with a view of publication in OJ.

2.3 Continued discussion on implementing measures as to the suitability of denominations of varieties.

The discussion was based on draft guidelines on the Administrative Council of CPVO.

The question of possible rules on a coding system was not finalized.

3. Possible amendments of Council Directive 66/401/EEC on the marketing of seed of fodder plants, in respect of the requirements on weeds of wild oats

The Council Directive 66/401/EEC provides for a nil tolerance in respect of wild oats in seeds of fodder plants. More specifically freedom must be found by official seed testing in samples of specified weight.

A Member State proposed to amend the Directive to no longer require seed testing, should alternative conditions be met, mainly freedom of the seed crops from plants of wild oats, as assessed by official field inspections.

Few delegations supported such an approach. The Committee agreed to resume this discussion, once those Member States which are currently in favour, give evidence of the circumstances under which the determination should be considered pointless.

4. Possible measures for trade of fodder seed lots with an increased weight.

Postponed.

5. Community comparative trials and tests on seeds and propagating material of certain plants under Council Directives 66/401/EEC, 66/402/EEC, 66/403/EEC and 69/208/EEC

The Commission representative informed the Committee that the financial procedural aspects for none of the trials and tests, as previously considered, have been clarified yet. The list was recalled

  • grasses (D)
  • seed testing (DK)
  • winter wheat (I)
  • maize (A)
  • potato (P)
  • swede rape (UK)
  • cotton (EL)
  • sunflower (E)
  • electrophoresis (F)
  • spring barley (IRL).

Without prejudice to the procedural aspects under above, the Committee

(a) approved formally the protocols, subject to minor technical adjustments

(b) noted that the participating Member States will already prepare the samples (seed potato included) to be sent in due time to the relevant responsible bodies

(c) should the commitment appropriation 1999 be agreed, indicated its readiness to discuss the strategy to be followed in the future, including an improved balance of distribution of the available resources, taking into account trials and tests in areas other than agriculture (vegetable, vine, fruits, ornamental plants). It indicated also its readiness to discuss possible new criteria in selecting the official responsible bodies.

On this occasion the Committee noted a letter dated from 29 November 1999 from ESA (European Seed Association) emphasizing the importance on Community trials and tests on flower bulbs.

6. Other Business

The Committee noted a progress report on the codification of the Council Directives 66/400/EEC, 66/401/EEC, 66/402/EEC, 66/403/EEC, 69/208/EEC, 70/457/EEC and 70/458/EEC.

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