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Food Safety

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

Short report of the meeting held on 30 may 2000

Chairman: Mr. Del Bino (item 1.1.), Mr. Obst (item 2) and Mr. Valvassori (for the other items)

All Member States present.

1. Seed testing

1.1. Draft Commission Decision amending Commission Decision 94/650/EEC on the organisation of a temporary experiment on the marketing of seed in bulk to the final consumer

Under the provision of the various Council Directives on the marketing of seed, seeds can only be marketed in closed packages bearing a closing device and markings. The current methods of transporting seed by way of bulk shipment to the final consumer require a simplification of the above mentioned provisions. Already in 1994 the Commission adopted a decision in order to organise a temporary experiment under specified conditions for the purposes of seeking improved alternatives to the provisions related to the closing device and the marking of packages. Such an experiment should end on 30 June 2000. As the assessment of the experiment has not yet been completed it is therefore necessary to extend further the period not to interrupt the continuity of the experiment.

Voting: favourable opinion by unanimous vote.

1.2. Commission Decision 98/320/EC on the organisation of a temporary experiment on seed sampling and seed testing

Not discussed due to shortage of time.

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

Not discussed due to shortage of time.

1.4. Possible amendment of Council Directive 66/401/EEC (seeds of fodder plants) in respect of the requirements on Avena fatua

Not discussed due to shortage of time.

2. Exchange of views on findings of adventitious presence of GMO seed in non-GMO varieties.

The Commission (SANCO E.1) presented the "Discussion Document for the Standing Committee on Seeds and Propagating Material for Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry" on the presence of GMO seed in seed lots of conventional varieties of certain plant species, which have been imported from certain third countries.

This document contains a number of suggestions for immediate action to prevent further introduction, and the spread, of in particular non-EU authorised genetically modified plant material in the Community, until completion of additional Community legislation under way.

MS reported on their respective situation concerning the introduction of seed lots of oilseed rape of conventional varieties, with or without confirmed presence of GMO seeds, thus updating the information received earlier from some MS.

The Committee welcomed the initiative of the Commission and concluded

- that the current legislative framework of the Community should be completed for prevention and management of the risks related to such incidents,

- that there is a need for appropriate interim measures, and

- that such measures should be specified at Community level.

Concerning the suggestions for immediate action, a number of MS entered a scrutiny reservation, others underlined the cost-rising effect of some of the suggested actions, and a larger number of MS supported the concept of the suggestions, subject to further specifications thereof and possibly to some additional measures.

This item will be further discussed in the next meeting of the Standing Committee, scheduled for mid June 2000.

In the meanwhile, the Commission will explore available testing methods and procedures for the detection and identification of GMO seeds/plants, with the aim of Community wide alignment.

3. EU Comparative trials

3.1. Main points arising from the trials finished in 1999

The Commission (SANCO, E.1) presented a summary of the points. Particular emphasis was paid to the following:

- varietal purity standards for female parental lines (swede rape)

- abnormal development of certain varieties due to differences in day-length between the place of the trial and the place of production of seed (spring barley)

- cutting of seed tubers (potato)

- Virus PVYNTN (potato)

- multiline varieties (cotton)

- methods for the detection of genetically modified seed (cotton and maize)

3.2. Meetings of the Committee of Experts to be held during 2000

The Committee noted the time table of the meetings: Swede rape 19-20 June, UK; Sunflower 22-23 June, E; Spring barley 29-30 June, IRL; Cotton 14-15 September, Greece and Maize 16-17 October, Austria.

3.3. Future trials

An exchange of views took place in particular on the following:

- criteria for selecting the list of crops. Under this item the question of priorities for crops in which significant development of genetical engineering and the risks of adventitious contamination of conventional varieties with genetically modified varieties have occurred, was discussed,

- calls for tender. Under this point the question of restricting the calls for tender to the official bodies competent for seed and varieties control under the Community seed legislation and the need to ensure that the trials are distributed across the Member States was discussed.

4. Common Catalogues of varieties of agricultural and vegetable species

4.1. Updating (latest publications, supplements in production)

The Committee welcomed the frequent publications of supplements, i.e. every six weeks for both the agricultural and the vegetable catalogues.

4.2. Implementation of Commission Regulation (EC) No 930/2000 on the denomination of varieties

Two aspects have been examined: a common way to monitor the current variety denominations and the question of implementation of the new Regulation for denominations which have been proposed by the applicant to the competent authority prior to the day on which the Regulation entered into force. The Committee agreed to charge a Group of Rapporteurs or/and a Committee of Experts to study further the above.

4.3. Classification of turnip rape and swede rape

Not discussed due to shortage of time.

5. Other business

The Committee noted a Draft Common Position on an OECD document on an International Seed Network Initiative on the Transboundary Movement of Seed and Biotechnology. It was acknowledged that this document was an advanced copy of a working paper which SANCO is submitting to the Council, with a view of a meeting with the Member States, currently scheduled for 15 June 2000.

N.B: The measures on which the Committee has given an opinion are subject to the appropriate procedure for final adoption by the Commission

List of participants

Etat Membre

Ministère ou Organisme

Nombre de personnes


Ministère des Classes Moyennes et de la l'Agriculture






Ministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Forsten



Ministry of Agriculture



Ministerio de Medio Ambiente



Ministère de l'agriculture et de la pêche sous direction de la foret



Forest Service, Department of the Marine and Natural Resources



Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Direzione Generale Risorse Forestali and ENSE






Forstliche Bundesversuchsanstald, Bundesamt und Forschungszentrum für Landwirtschaft



Ministerio da Agricultura - Direccao Geral Florestas



Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry



Swedish Board of Agriculture



Forestry Commission



Ministry of Agriculture



Plant Variety Office



European Commission - SANCO E.1



Other General Directorates






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