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10 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM he Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD Seed Certification Schemes is a global framework for the varietal certification of internationally-traded seed. The overarching objective of the schemes is to increase market access and facilitate trade by simplifying certification procedures reducing tech- nical barriers to trade and ensuring traceability of the seed. In addition the schemes contribute to the harmonisation of international standards through the consistent enforcement of quality standards and inspection procedures. Established in 1958 the schemes have grown steadily over the years with 59 countries now actively participating and a further 10 observer countries likely to join in the near future. The schemes are the most widely used global certification system with participating coun- tries from all regions of the world and covering a broad range of crops from the different climatic zones. When a country joins it adopts the certification framework and this contributes to enhancing the growth of their seed sector and integration into global markets. Today over 90 percent of all field crop seed traded is covered by the OECD Seed Certification Schemes. For over 50 years the schemes have provided farmers access to high-quality seed from all over the world and have made a major contri- bution to raising crop productivity increasing farm incomes and contrib- uting to global food security. The availability and access to a consistent supply of high-quality seed is critical for a dynamic competitive and productive agriculture sector. With an ever-growing world population increased productivity is critical. Thus farmers access to new and high- er-yielding varieties is critical to meeting this challenge. The OECD schemes have made a substantial contribution to growth in the global seed trade especially with respect to field crops. Over the last three decades the global seed market has grown at a rapid pace driven by demand for higher-yielding varieties of seedhybrid seed in particular. Currently the value of the global seed market is estimated at about US45 billion with Europe North America and Asia accounting for over three-quarters of the total. The United States China France and Brazil are the largest seed markets in terms of value. However the composition of the industry varies by region with trade in vegetable seed by far the most important in Asia while field crops are significantly more important in other parts of the world. Exports and imports of seed have also grown rapidly in recent years and the international seed trade is currently valued at about US9 billion annually. The largest exporting countries are The Netherlands United States France and Germany. TECHNICAL CERTIFICATION STANDARDS OECD varietal certification standards are developed by an expert committee consisting of the National Designated Authorities NDA researchers industry and farmer representatives as well as represent- atives of other international organizations. The certification standards are based on two key criteria varietal identity and varietal purity. The committee meets annually to discuss and approve new standards or mod- ifications of the existing standards. All changes to the standards must be agreed on by consensus of the 59 member countries. In essence the schemes set out the rules and pro- cedures for checking varietal identity and varietal purity and these pro- cedures are harmonised amongst participating countries. Furthermore the schemes authorise the use of labels and certificates for seed pro- duced and processed for international trade according to the principles established for each of the seven schemes. The rules are regularly updated to reflect the needs of stakeholders and in particular the NDAs. Changes in agriculture trade and envi- ronmental policies as well as changes in biotechnologies often result in the need to further refine the rules. The frequent meetings between NDAs of participating countries and stakeholders allow for an exchange of information discussion of concerns and proposals for modification YOUR PASSPORT TO THE WORLD the OECD Seed Schemes The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development offers an inside look at how seed schemes are helping facilitate import and export of seed in order to help the industry grow. By Michael Ryan OECD To view the countries participating in the OECD Seed Schemes visit tinyurl.comnfs65m2