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New European assurance scheme for seed treatments undergoes UK testing

1 December 2011

A pilot assurance scheme for the seed treatment industry, the European Seed Treatment Assurance scheme (ESTA), has been unveiled in the UK. The move comes as the seed industry seeks to preserve essential plant protection products, protect international trade and ensure ongoing investment.
ESTA was devised by the European Seed Association (ESA) in response to the EU Directive (2010/21) which required insecticide seed treatments to ëonly be performed in professional seed treatment facilities.í The Directive results from incidences of bee deaths in Germany, Austria and France, particularly associated with treated maize seed.
In the UK, the ESTA scheme will be operated as part of the Trade Assurance Scheme for Combinable Crops (TASCC), which many seed companies already participate in.
ìEssentially, the scheme looks to minimise risk,î explained AIC Board Member James Wallace, speaking at the launch. ìThere is a need to counter the siren voices of single issue pressure groups calling for certain products to be banned. Therefore, the seed trade needs to demonstrate that it is operating to high professional standards, and that there is no need for further regulation of either Certified or farm-saved seed.
ìThis needs to be a European-wide scheme as seed treatment products are subject to EU regulations. Any serious incident in an individual member state could again lead to product withdrawal. In addition, there is a need to ensure free movement of treated seed across the Community unhampered by individual Member state legislation.
ìAbove all, the scheme aims to protect future use of seed treatments and stimulate further investment in these products that are so vital in the early stages of a cropís growth.î
Seed treatment manufacturers have welcomed the scheme.
Stephen Beal of Syngenta stressed that the scheme is practical, having been developed by the industry and for the industry, and is vital to maintain product approvals. By demonstrating high professional working standards right across all seed treatment applications, the scheme will stimulate the introduction of new products.


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ìWe believe that ESTA will carry on existing stewardship programmes, developed by manufacturers, for farm use. All involved in the supply of treated seed have a duty to ensure that farmers are aware of the role they have to play when sowing crops,î said Mr Beal.
In operation, the scheme will not pose any major challenges, according to Garry Rudd, Technical Manager responsible for TASCC at AIC.
ìDuring November, two pilot audits were undertaken to test the scheme at Elsoms and Daltons Seeds. While these highlighted some issues, none were insurmountable. Given that most UK seed merchants already participate in TASCC, I do not see adopting ETSA will be too at all onerous,î said Mr Rudd.
The UK initiative is part of a three country pilot that also involves France and Germany. The Scheme will go live in February, subject to approval at an ESA meeting.

Further information
Garry Rudd, Technical Manager, AIC Services 01733 385274
Issued by
Geoff Dodgson, Chamberlain 01223 884600 m: 07710 379561


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