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12 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM EMERGING CHALLENGES AND ISSUES The harmonisation of certification procedures at the international level brings many benefits and has made a significant contribution to the growth of the global seed market. Nevertheless there are numerous challenges and issues that the sector needs to address. One of the com- plex challenges facing seed certification today is the issue of climate change and the likely impacts this will have on plant breeding seed production and the direction of trade. With climate change the tra- ditional seed producing countries and regions of the world are likely to shift resulting in a significant change in the direction of trade for certified seed. Another challenge is the rapid advancement of biotechnology and the implications this will have for markets certification standards and testing procedures. In particular there will be an increasing focus on traits that deal with abiotic stresses. With the rapid advances in biotechnology the average lifespan of a variety is expected to be shorter with significant consequences for research and development seed varietal certification and markets. This area requires further in-depth analyses particularly when it comes to the effectiveness of the existing technical requirements for varietal certification as well as the associated costs in this fast-moving environment. A further challenge to take into account relates to changes in con- sumer preferences and the impact this will have on market demand and the attributes of crops and new varieties of seed. For example there is growing interest in specific quality attributes in food crops which in turn is expected to increase the demand for new varieties with characteristics demanded by consumers. Another example is the certification of varieties for specific uses such as for biofuel production. The ongoing structural changes at the farm level also pose a chal- lenge with the steadily increasing size of farms which will have important implications for the input supply sectors especially seed. In effect more and more farmers are demanding a complete and fully integrated approach to dealing with the complex regulatory requirements for seed quality phytosanitary standards and environmental standards in order to lower costs and increase efficiency. The global nature of seed companies is also an issue with fewer but larger companies emerging to serve the growing global demand for cer- tified seed. For some crop species this process is already well advanced. This may have further implications for international certification and the availability of high-quality seed for farmers. A long-standing issue in the seed sector is the lack of an international varietal certification system for vegetable seed. This issue is very complex and potentially costly due to the wide diversity of species included in this group. Trade in vegetable seed is expanding especially in Asia and the value of the trade is growing rapidly. However while there is interest in developing a credible effective and cost efficient international varietal certification system to handle this category of seed this does not exist at the moment. With the ever-increasing administrative and regulatory demands associated with meeting the growing list of quality standards greater attention needs to be taken to ensure that the benefits of high standards do not become a burden and limit farmers access to the highest quality seed varieties currently available in the world. The OECD Seed Schemes Ad-Hoc Technical Working Group meet- ings will be held Jan. 26-29 2016 in Cape Town South Africa. The annual meeting will take place on June 9-10 2016 in Paris France. For more information on the OECD Seed Schemes visit www.oecd.orgtadcodeseeds.htm Editors Note Michael Ryan is currently Senior Policy Advisor at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD. His advice extends to the OECDs Codes and Schemes which cover the development and implementation of international standards for tractor codes seed certification forest FRM certification as well as quality standards for fruits and vegetables. Ryan holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics International Trade and Finance from the University of Alberta Edmonton Canada and an M. Agr. Sc. from University College Dublin UCD Ireland. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the OECD. Frequent meetings allow for a multi-stakeholder dialogue to exchange information and to nd solutions to contentious issues. An eective and efficient national and international regulatory system is critical to ensure that farmers have access to the best varieties of seed that are available globally. Trials for assessment of varietal identity and varietal purity. PhotocourtesyOECD