Marketing of Organic Heterogeneous Material: consultation

Closed 23 Jan 2024

Opened 31 Oct 2023


The purpose of this consultation is to seek views from individuals and companies including Professional Operators (seed merchants, seed processors, seed packers), Licensed Crop Inspectors, Licensed Seed Samplers, Licensed Seed Testing Stations (LSTS), farmers and interested members of the public on the Scottish Government's proposal to:

  1. Introduce secondary legislation that will permit and regulate the production and marketing of plant reproductive material of an organic and heterogeneous nature in Scotland.
  2. Method of delivery:
    • The legislative mechanisms by which OHM might be marketed
    • The scope of species any new legislation should apply to

We are inviting responses to this consultation by Tues 23/01/2024.

Defining Organic Heterogeneous Material

Organic: any plant reproductive material to be marketed should have been produced using methods that comply with the relevant organic regulations.

Heterogeneous; plant material (i.e. a seed lot or growing crop) that displays diverse or dissimilar characteristics within a set population.

The diversity seen within a heterogeneous population is different to that seen in a seed mix. Seed mixes are a mixture of already certified single varieties, whereas heterogeneous material should be the result of specific production techniques (which will be set out in legislation).

Current UK marketing regulations

Currently, OHM cannot be legally marketed in Scotland as the marketing regulations have a requirement for homogeneity of seed lots. To demonstrate homogeneity, a varietal purity test is carried out by the Official Seed Testing Station for Scotland (OSTS) or a licenced seed testing station (LSTS).

Seed being marketed in GB should also be on the GB variety list, as set out in the Seeds (National Lists of Varieties) Regulations 2001; a requirement of which is for varieties to be identified as distinct, uniform, and stable (DUS) by means of official trials. OHM cannot be assessed as uniform or stable under current methods and therefore could not be added to a variety list.

Proposed conditions

Recognising the divergence from established marketing requirements a number of conditions are likely to be proposed, with which OHM must comply. These are:

  • Material should be produced in accordance with any regulations set out to govern marketing. This will include demonstrating the use of an acceptable breeding method.
  • A description of the material must be provided, which is likely to include characterisation of the materials phenotype and heterogeneity. Also required will be a description of the characteristics that make it relevant from an agronomic perspective  i.e. yield, disease resistance, stress tolerance.
  • Material will not be assessed for varietal purity, however it will be required to meet quality requirements including analytical purity, germination rates and phytosanitary quality, as prescribed in the relevant seed marketing regulations.
  • Labelling of material will be required, with requirements set out in any legislation

Diagram showing differences between marketing seed mixtures and organic heterogeneous material

Diagram showing differences between marketing seed mixtures and organic heterogeneous material

Read the consulation paper


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