International Clean Seed Pathway Workshop

​​​​In response to the increase in the global movement of seeds for planting and associated phytosanitary regulation, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is convening a workshop ‘The International Clean Seed Pathway’ on 7-8 June 2018 at the Novotel Brisbane, 200 Creek Street, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

The objectives of the workshop are:

  1. to provide a forum for seed producers and users, importers, exporters, researchers and regulators to discuss the concept of an integrated system pathway approach for regulating the phytosanitary health of seed
  2. to promote and enhance global movement of clean seed pathways.

The workshop will enable the sharing of experiences, expertise and perceptions among all areas of the seed industry. The meeting will be attended by a range of invited stakeholder groups, including producers, importers, exporters, researchers and national and international regulators of seed.

The workshop will include sessions to:

  • define and agree on a concept for a global clean seed system
  • consider and agree on the processes for identifying and responding to new pest risks on the seed pathway
  • consider and agree on the strategy for international adoption of the global clean seed system by the International Plant Protection Convention
  • establish governance framework and a leadership group to develop and implement the global clean seed system.

For any enquiries relating to this workshop please email Seed Pathway Workshop Seed Pathway Workshop.​

​Context for the workshop

Towards a Systems Approach Alternative to Consignment-by-Consignment Phytosanitary Certification for Seed.

Problem: Today’s seed industry is a global enterprise.  Seed companies have located production operations in many different countries to take advantage of climate, logistics and economics. Expanding markets mean companies are conducting more international business. The volume and number of seed shipments have increased significantly, as have the number of seed species traded internationally.  The global nature of seed trade means that re-export is a necessary business practice in the seed industry.  The number of additional declarations for specific pests required by importing countries continue to rise very quickly as does the variation in import requirements.

In the face of these challenges, certifying officials in exporting and re-exporting countries must issue hundreds of thousands of phytosanitary certificates each year only after confirming that these large variety of import requirements have been met.  These many consignment-by consignment certifications strain National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) resources, especially in the areas of pest risk analysis and export certification. 

Phytosanitary certification of small seed lots used to support research and breeding programs around the world are an additional challenge for NPPOs to address with current approaches.  The small size of these lots and their high value make statistically significant sampling and testing of individual consignments difficult.

An alternative to the traditional approach of consignment-by-consignment phytosanitary certification that provides equivalent phytosanitary security is needed to cope with this increase in work with limited resources.

Proposed solution:   Companies that move seed internationally usually produce seed utilizing quality management systems and best practices that manage phytosanitary risk. ISPM 38 recognizes that these seed production practices, when combined under a systems approach (ISPM 14), can manage phytosanitary risk to a level consistent with the pest risk involved. ISPM 38 does not address the issue of how to apply a systems approach as an alternative to consignment-by-consignment phytosanitary certification.

One approach is to adapt existing industry practices and combine them with regulatory oversight to create a risk-based systems approach to manage the phytosanitary risks of international seed trade.

NPPOs of exporting (production) countries could accredit seed companies based on compliance with the systems approach. This accreditation would form the basis for phytosanitary certification and would serve as an alternative to the current consignment-by-consignment certifications based on inspection and testing at export or import. Substituting sampling and testing for accreditation of a systems approach can also resolve issues around the movement of small lots of seed.

This new paradigm requires multilateral acceptance of this concept. To be effective, a uniform systems approach framework and a standardized accreditation and auditing guidance document could be developed and internationally accepted. The IPPC provides the only viable platform to achieve that international acceptance either through an annex to ISPM 38 or as stand-alone guidance to NPPOs on the application of a systems approach as an alternative to consignment-by-consignment phytosanitary certification.

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