The Seeds (National Lists of Varieties) Regulations 1999

The Seeds (National Lists of Varieties) Regulations 1999

The Seeds (National Lists of Varieties) Regulations 1999

The Royal Society of Edinburgh is pleased to respond to the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department’s consultation on the Seeds (National Lists of Varieties) Regulations 1999. The RSE is Scotland’s premier Learned Society, comprising Fellows elected on the basis of their distinction, from the full range of academic disciplines, and from industry, commerce and the professions. This response has been compiled with the assistance of a number of Fellows including those with direct experience of agricultural and crop research.

The Society is satisfied that the new Seeds (National Lists of Varieties) Regulations 1999 will fulfil the requirements of the many parties involved in the release of new varieties. With regard to specific comments on the Statutory Instruments, the Society would comment on a couple of points:

  • Page 16 of the Statutory Instruments, Section 8 (1): The draft indicates that the methods used for determining characteristics for the purpose shall be exact and reliable. This, in essence, refers to variety trials which by their very nature, cannot be exact, and reliability can only be based on statistical interpretation involving different years and between site considerations. Accordingly, the wording in this Section could be clarified.
  • Page 11 of the Statutory Instruments, Section 5 (4) bottom p11-top p12: There would be merit in amending bullet point (a) to include ‘protection of the environment’. This has more general value and would give wider powers to protect the environment over the long as well as the short term.

The specific issues identified in the consultation document are addressed below:

The requirement for genetically modified crop varieties to have a marketing consent under Directive 90/220/EEC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms, before they can be accepted onto a National List

The requirement for genetically modified crop varieties to have a marketing consent is sensible and appropriate. As a result of public concern about unauthorised genetically modified crop release, it might be desirable to have specific and more substantial penalties to apply if such prior consent is not obtained.

Varieties intended to produce novel foods/food ingredients can be accepted on a National List only if the food/food ingredient has already been authorised under the novel foods regulation (Regulation (EC) No 258/97)

With growing interest in nutraceuticals, the need to obtain authority under the novel foods regulations before a variety can be accepted on the National List will become more important. Again public reassurance that novel foods are safe must be ensured and the statutory instruments play an important role in this respect.

The requirement that the UK National Lists, published in the Plant Varieties and Seeds Gazette, shall clearly indicate which varieties, if any, on the list are genetically modified and provide the reference number of the Part C marketing consent

The clear indication on the National List of those varieties which have been subject to genetic modification is welcome and necessary.

Whether the significance of hemp as a crop in the UK has increased sufficiently to warrant introducing National Listing, and controls on marketing, of hemp varieties

The derogation of hemp from the National Listing is reasonable as insufficient quantities of the crop is grown to justify the introduction of such controls. Derogation will not, however, preclude inclusion by subsequent amendment, if the crop becomes more important in future.

Whether the proposed regulations significantly alter the regulatory burdens on industry.

With regard to the regulatory burdens on the industry, the renewed Statutory Instruments are essentially an updating of the existing system and the Society would expect industry to be ready to cope with these much heralded changes.

With regard to the Regulatory Impact Assessment, the Society would comment on a couple of points:

  • Purpose and intended effect of the proposal (Risk Assessment –Para. 4): There may be merit in including 'Failure to tighten Regulations relating to genetically modified varieties could lead to public disquiet,
  • Benefits (Para.’s 8 and 9): It would be clearer if the benefits were clearly spelled out here. The benefits should include the questions of public reassurance that the Regulations are designed to safeguard against the unregulated introduction of novel and genetically mortified crops.

Additional Information

In responding to this inquiry the Society would like to draw attention to the following Royal Society of Edinburgh response which is of relevance to this subject: The Scientific Advisory System – Genetically Modified Foods Inquiry (March 1999); Assessment of Value for Cultivation and Use (VCU) of Agricultural Plant Varieties (October 1999); and Scientific and Health Aspects of Genetically Modified Foods (February 2000). Copies of the above publications and further copies of this response are available from the Research Officer, Dr Marc Rands


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