Healthy seed for healthy crops
Planting healthy seeds is the basis for growing a healthy crop. Plant health is of particular importance for plant reproductive material (seed) as, unlike other plant products, it is used for multiplication. If seed is infected with pests or diseases, these pests and diseases may be multiplied manifold in the growing crop. This may then make additional pesticide applications necessary, lead to severe harvest and quality losses, or even produce that is no longer fit for human or animal nutrition.
Europe’s plant breeders and seed producers develop the high quality seeds required for sustainable and competitive farming in Europe. Ensuring that seeds are healthy is the precondition for healthy crops and crucial for agricultural production as well as the environment. While dedicated seed health requirements have always formed an integral part of the EU’s general rules for plant health as well as its seed marketing legislation, today some requirements fall under the Plant Health Directive while others fall under the crop-specific Directives for Seed Marketing. This means that different pests appear in different pieces of legislation, with sometimes lack of clarity and coherence.
Seed health in the future EU Plant Heath Regulation
As part of its overall ‘Smarter Rules for Safer Foods’ package of 2013, the Commission now proposes to clearly pool all plant and seed health related rules in a single Plant Health Regulation. Still, depending on the actual phytosanitary threat to environment or health and taking into account economic importance and available tools, pests and diseases would still be put into different categories ranging from strict quarantine to quality management.
For plant breeders and seed producers, it is important that the future legislation will allow for sufficient flexibility to take account of the specificities of plant reproductive material in comparison to regular commodities.