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Council Directive 2002/54/EC of 13 June 2002 on the marketing of beet seed aims to improve the quality of Community beet seed by means of a uniform Community certification scheme. It permits, as a general rule, Member States to restrict the marketing of beet seed to that which has been officially examined (or examined under official supervision) and certified. Certification can only be granted if seed fulfils the conditions laid down in the Directive, notably previous cropping, identity and purity of variety, minimum distances from neighbouring pollen sources in respect of crops; and identity and purity of variety, disease status, analytical purity, germination and moisture content in respect of the seeds. Requirements covering polyploidy, monogermity and segmentation are also stipulated. The Directive requires that beet 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, it 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 a Community legislation has been in place since 1966 (former Council Directive 66/400/EEC; consolidated through Council Directive 2002/54/EC on the marketing of beet seed. Where appropriate, the Commission is assisted by Member States in adopting measures related to Council Directive 2002/54/EC through the Standing Committee on Seeds and Propagating Material for Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry.

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