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Council Directive 66/402/EEC of 14 June 1966 on the marketing of cereal seed set up a scheme to improve the quality of Community cereal seed. It set up a uniform certification scheme for the Community which permits, as a general rule, Member States to restrict the marketing of cereal seed to that which has been officially certified. Certification can only be granted if the seed has been found by official examination to fulfil the conditions laid down in the Directive, notably previous cropping, identity and purity of variety, minimum distances from neighbouring pollen sources and the presence of harmful organisms in respect of crops; and varietal identity and purity, germination, analytical purity, content of seeds of other plant species and the presence of harmful organisms, in particular Claviceps purpurea, in respect of seeds. Cereal seed harvested in countries outside the European Community may only be marketed within the EU if the seed affords the same assurances as seed officially certified within the Community. Furthermore, the Directive addresses the need for the identity of seed to be ensured throughout the marketing processes and lays down rules to ensure this, namely that seed be marketed in sufficiently homogenous lots and in sealed tamper-proof packaging. In addition, specific requirements are set out regarding sealing, labelling and documentation.

It should be noted that as Council Directive 66/402/EEC of 14 June 1966 on the marketing of cereal seed has been frequently and substantially amended, in the interest of clarity it is currently being consolidated. It should also be noted that some Member States have been released from the obligation of applying Directive 66/402/EEC to certain cereal species not normally reproduced or marketed in their territory.

Where appropriate, the Commission is assisted by Member States in adopting measures related to Council Directive 66/402/EEC through the Standing Committee on Seeds and Propagating Material for Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry.

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