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Council Directive 2002/56/EC of 13 June 2002 on the marketing of seed potatoes aims to improve the quality of Community seed potatoes by means of a uniform certification scheme for the Community. It permits, as a general rule, Member States to restrict the marketing of seed potatoes to that which has been officially certified, although under specified conditions it remains possible to place on the market bred seed potatoes of generations prior to this. Certification can only be granted if the seed has been found by official examination to fulfil the conditions laid down in the Directive, notably regarding health (e.g. the presence of blackleg and common scab) and quality. Minimum size requirements are laid down in the main body of the Directive although allowance is made for advances that have been made in the micro-propagation techniques. In addition, the Directive allows that the categories of seed potatoes may be subdivided into grades suitable for different requirements and Commission Directive 93/17/EEC of 30 march 1993 set out a Community scheme for such grading. 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 a Community legislation has been in place since 1966 (former Council Directive 66/403/EEC; consolidated through Council Directive 2002/56/EC on the marketing of seed potatoes). Where appropriate, the Commission is assisted by Member States in adopting measures related to Council Directive 2002/56/EC through the Standing Committee on Seeds and Propagating Material for Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry.

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