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Food Safety

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

Short report of the meeting held on 27 and 28 March 2001.

Chairman: M. Del Bino (item 3), Mr Valvassori (remaining items)

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

1. Possible conditions under which seed of varieties not yet officially accepted may be marketed.

Council Directive 98/95/EC amending the various directives on the marketing of seed, within the measures adopted to remove barriers to trade which may hinder the free movement of seeds within the Community, has laid down Community rules for placing on the market seeds of varieties not yet officially accepted. Some rules have been specified by the Council directly. Others should be adopted as implementing measures by the Commission, in accordance with the Standing Committee procedure, to authorise such a marketing.

The Committee discussed a working paper suggesting the conditions under which the authorisation mentioned above may be granted.

2. Possible amendments to the Commission Directives 72/168/EEC (Vegetable), 72/169/EEC (Vine) and 72/180/EEC (Agricultural plants) determining the characteristics and the minimum conditions for examining the varieties.

Several Member States felt that the varietal characteristics laid down, in particular, in the Commission Directives 72/168/EEC and 72/180/EEC are obsolete. Some suggested that the minimum general conditions are no longer in line with the practices followed. An alignment with the criteria applied in the framework of the Community plant variety rights was recommended.

3. Adventitious presence of GM seed in seed of conventional plant varieties

A continued discussion took place on the plan for co-ordinated and harmonised interim actions by Member States. Updated information on the actual situation concerning the implementation of such a plan have been provided by some delegations.

As to the Member States which in the previous meeting stated that they were not in a position to implement the plan (two Member States), one of them informed that, with the view to implement the plan, it is organising co-ordinated actions to test seed lots; However, measures are already in place to prohibit production and marketing of GM seeds of any origin, including the adventitious presence.

As to the Member States which stated that they will implement the plan (six Member States), it was noted that one of them is now ready to implement the plan, but no importation from third countries with a view to the domestic market has yet been announced. However, due to a derogation in force in respect of seeds of crops not grown in its country, such testing will not cover a sensitive case, i.e cotton seed intended for another Member State.

As to the Member States which stated that they already have implemented the plan (seven Member States)

- a Member State reported that its country is asking, irrespective of the origin of seed, a certification as regards GM presence. In the case of a lot of seeds without such a certification, tests are carried out before allowing marketing,

- a Member State reported that a double control system is in place: by seed producers and by the authorities through check sampling,

- a Member State reported that some samples of maize imported from third countries appeared to be contaminated,

At the end of the above discussion, it was suggested that the Member States will report either in writing or at the occasion of the next meeting details on the percentage of lots tested, the methodology used for detection and the results obtained.

As possible amendments to be made to the annexes of the Directives on the marketing of seeds, the Committee noted that the "Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Plants concerning the adventitious presence of GM seeds in conventional seeds" was adopted on 7 March 2001.

4. Technical protocols for EU comparative trials and tests in 2001/2002 (harvest 2000).

The Committee noted draft technical protocols in respect of:

  • Grasses
  • Maize
  • Wheat
  • Potato
  • Cotton
  • Soya bean
  • Swede rape
  • Sunflower
  • Seed testing (Commission Decision 98/320/EEC on the organisation of a temporary experiment on seed sampling and seed testing - Art. 3(8))
  • Tomato (Council Directive 70/458/EEC)
  • Shallot (Council Directive 92/33/EEC)
  • Vine

The Committee was ready to approve from a technical point of view those protocols. However, several delegations indicated that in absence of an insurance by the Commission as to an official carrying out of the trials and tests, they did not intend to approve them.

5. Other business.

The Committee noted:

  • the Commission (Legal Service) updated the Committee on the state of play of the official codification of the seed Directives
  • a Technical Manual on the structures of the notification messages related to the management of the Common Catalogues of varieties has been sent to the relevant Member States' experts
  • an announcement that a meeting of the "Association des Agences de Certification Européennes des Semences" (ESCA) is scheduled for 9-10 May 2001 in Lisbon. The meeting will discuss the impact of the adventitious presence of GM seed in conventional plant varieties on seed certification
  • an announcement that the 2001 meeting of the "Heads of EU and EFTA/EEA Certifying Agencies for Seeds" will take place in Copenhagen from 4-7 September 2001.

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

Standing Committee on Seed and Propagating Material for Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry" Date : 27-28 March 2001

Etat Membre

Ministère ou Organisme

Nombre de personnes


Ministère Agriculture et des Classes Moyennes






Bundessortenamt + Biologische Bundesanstalt



Ministry of Agriculture



Ministerio de Agriculture Pesca y Alimentacion + Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnologia



Ministère de l'agriculture et de la pêche + GNIS

1 + 1


Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development



Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, + ENSE

2 + 1


Administration des Service Techniques de l'Agriculture



Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, Management and Fisheries + Naktuinbouw+ NAK



BFL Institut



Ministerio da Agricultura do Desenvolvimento Rural e das Pescas - Direcção Geral de Protecção das Culturas



Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry



Jordbruksverket + Jordbruksdepartementet






Ministry of Agriculture



Community Plant Variety Office



European Commission



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



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